Recently I’ve been trying to find some Anime’s/Manga’s to get into. Mostly to expose myself to more Japanese language to help me understand it, but also for entertainment. This is one of the first ones I came across and I’m glad I found it.
⚠️ Warning, this post contains some early story spoilers.
Komi Can’t Communicate/古見さんは、コミュ症です is an ongoing manga series. It tells the story of a high school girl named Shoko Komi who has a really hard time communicating with people as she suffers from extreme social anxiety. Something which I have and still do suffer from, though admittedly not as bad as Komi does. When I picked this up I will admit that I instantly read through the entire manga as is it stands to date in about a week if not faster. As of writing there are 24 volumes, 25 isn’t out for another few weeks yet, with 26 & 27 coming later this year. I will be getting them as and when 🤩.
Now I don’t read often, mostly as I find it quite boring when the content isn’t something I’m super interested in. But this I would actually voluntarily read. Similar to Lonely Castle in the Mirror, a book I read recently that I have a post in the works for as well. I read that in a similar vain and was excited to finish it. I did also watch the anime adaptation, in Japanese with subtitles and it does a really good job of bringing the manga to life. Watching it is a good alternative if your not into the manga, but note it is very far behind the current manga’s being released. The anime currently has 2 seasons as of writing which covers volumes 1 – 9 and the start of volume 10.
The story mainly covers Komi’s goal of making 100 friends, something which starts with the help of her first friend Hitohito Tadano. Tadano notices Komi struggling to say anything and being incredibly nervous, shy & anxious about everything that she says/does. He’s the first to actually notice this and provide a compromise with writing on the blackboard at the back of the class. Komi had managed it earlier in the class. Komi is able to communicate by writing things down and explains the situation and how she feels. She is about the leave after explaining it all when Tadano starts writing a question the blackboard. They then share their first conversation on the blackboard. Its a really sweet moment between the two and starts off one hell of a friendship.
What follows is just an amazingly well made collection of moments through the year with Komi constantly been misunderstood as someone totally different to who she is on multiple occasions. She’s also the most popular member of the class, being very attractive and all. She’s even made as class “god”. A role the class made just for her as she couldn’t really handle being the class rep. Tadano ended up being the rep. I really love the visuals through the manga, mostly the way Komi is represented. I loved the notepad conversations & the way Komi is drawn with just the eyes, its kind of cute 😻.
As I eluded too earlier, I really connected with this anime/manga. Komi’s struggles to talk and how she reacts in social situations is very similar to how I’d react in some cases. I’ve certainly come out of my shell over the year and am far better at talking to people than I was a few years back, but I still have some of these exact anxieties. The manga also brings up talking fast as being a communication disorder which feels right given how I naturally speak really fast. To the point where I have to repeat myself wayyyyy to much. To the point were its annoying to me.
But it also nicely conveys exactly how I feel after conversations with people. I’m immediately thinking did I say something wrong? was that appropriate? I should’ve had said that! etc. As well as the nerves people like me can suffer from, from even the most mundane things, like making a phone call, arranging to meet people or even just going somewhere totally new. It piles up and the manga nicely shows that this can keep you up at night. I know it does for me sometimes, I often loose sleep from overthinking like this about pretty much anything. Its nice to see it represented. for a change.
Overall I really recommend people give this a watch/read. For me its something I’m looking forward to reading now, can’t wait for the next volume in a few weeks, its really kicking off on a long running story beat now and I’m loving it.
* All media in this post is from the Komi Can’t Communicate Anime series on Netflix. No copyright infringment is interned in their use & belongs to its respective copyright holder(s).
I randomly came about the trailer for the anime film adaption of the book of the same name. Once I saw the trailer, I actually got the book. Mostly due to the film not being out at the time.
⚠️ Warning, this post contains story spoilers.
So, Lonely Castle in the Mirror tells the story of a group of school age children who are all summoned to a castle through mirrors in their rooms. The mirrors open up during the day from 9-5 allowing all of them to access the castle as a safe space. There is a mystery around the castle, it has no running water or utilities other than electricity and it will grant one wish to the person who finds the key hidden in the castle. There are some catches though. The castle will close to everyone when a wish is granted, they have a year to find it or it will close regardless and when the wish is granted, all their memories of the castle will be lost. Their memories will remain if no-one claims the wish. Also there are wolves that’ll eat anyone who breaks the rules.
What made this story stand out even more was the fact the 7 kids in the castle were all suffering from a mixture of abuse, bullying & loss. For me the bullied students hit home the most, being bullied a lot myself back in school, I went through a lot of the similar experiences.
The main character Kokoro, which means heart in Japanese, is suffering from mass bullying trauma & can barely leave the house. She hasn’t been to school in a while and it is taking its toll. Essentially she’s been bullied for having a short affair/crush on a guy at school. The popular girl group is mocking her & being real nasty to her and her emotions. It all becomes too much for Kokoro to handle and she isolates herself, not going to school despite her mother protests. One scene that was very familiar to me, as I think I had a moment just like this when I was younger, was when her bullies came to her home and started to banging on her door. Trying to get her to come out and face them. Kokoro does exactly what I’d do, lock all the door, close all the curtains and hide. I’m glad this scene is in the anime as it really hits hard how badly hurt Kokoro is mentally by their presence and how vulnerable she is from it. I won’t spoil the other teens troubles, but you do learn them throughout the story.
I do have to take a moment to mention the soundtrack. Its another really good one. I do love my music, so when a film/game makes a good soundtrack, I notice. Below is the main theme & soundtrack for the film version if you want to have a listen:
People who know me know that I don’t read often, not that I can’t read, but personally I find it really hard to get into a book. However this was an acception. I ended up reading the book in like two weeks which is un-heard. It started with just evening reads, about 30 mins each night right before going to sleep in bed. But I ended up finishing the book during the day volunterrially as I was into it so much. Having seen the film as well, I can say for the sure the book is worth a read. They miss a lot of the bonding moments between the characters to get all the story in the runtime. Which is something you really notice reading the book, its also an easy read. Even though its translated from Japanese and has a few odd translation moments.
So yea, this is totally worth a read. Its not a happy story for most of its runtime. But I thoroughly recommend it.
Recently, I started learning Japanese for a bit of fun. I don’t expect to be fluent or anything ever, but knowing a few words or sentences and recognising the symbols would be nice. Learning it is just another part of my daily routine now. Due to this I was interested in watching a few movies in Japanese and found this one from a random anime aesthetics twitter accounts, sharing screenshots from anime’s and a screenshot from the promotional material for this movie drew my eye.
I had no idea what I was getting into with this one but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. From here on out expect spoilers as I go through the story and my thoughts as I watched it for the first time.
If you don’t want spoilers for this film, please stop reading here as I’m about to summarise the film and talk about my thoughts as I do.
The movie begins with a cold open to a comet falling from the sky followed by a little dialogue and a kicker kind of tv style intro for the movie. The dialogue refers to the link between the two main characters as well as the spectacle of the comet in the sky. Referring to it as “Nothing more, nothing less, than a beautiful view”. The music & visuals are absolutely stunning and it nicely introduces you to the locations, events & characters your about to see for the duration of the movie.
So your name follows the story of two high schoolers, Taki & Mitsuha who are connected through a ribbon of fate. Which in itself is a mystery. The movie starts off slow, introducing the two characters & their lives. Taki lives in the city with his father & works part time as a waiter in the evenings. He also has a crush on a colleague at said job. While Mitsuha lives in the countryside with her little sister, grandmother & father and dreams of living in the big city, she also takes part in some local traditions of the town. Nothing freaky so far. The story follows their relationship through their unique connection.
The First Twist
Right away we see the first major twist, the body swapping. They first think they are dreaming only later discovering that it is not. Starting with Taki in Mitsuha’s body for a little bit before seeing Mitsuha’s reaction to hearing what happen while she was not in control of her body the day before. A major part of the swapping is the person possessed has no memory of the events that took place while they were possessed. Seeing just a small bit of the possessed day followed by a full introduction of Mitsuha, her friends & life. While also learning of what happened the day before from the recounts of her peers makes for an opening that I really enjoyed. It was different to anything else I had seen already and made want to keep watching. I was watching this movie on my second monitor, trying to get some other work done on the main, but at this point I was hooked at this point and gave up on getting anything done that evening.
We then just to Taki with Mitsuha in control and see what happened, instead of seeing Taki’s life with Taki finding out what happened right away we instead see what Mitsuha got up-to while in Taki’s body. Being someone who wanted to live in the city it is a dream come true for Mitsuha, with cafe’s and all. Everyone around Taki can tell he’s acting strange as Mitsuha has to figure out what Taki’s life is and all. Probably one of the best interactions is when Mitsuha in Taki’s body repairs a tear in a skirt of a colleague, the lady Tai as a bit of a crush for, and she notes the more feminine side to him, which is obviously Mitsuha.
We then see Taki finding out what happened the day before and his reaction, being is pretty accurate with shock and scepticism. As well as getting some funny reactions from his peers, especially as all the guys at his work want to know what happened between him and his crush while Mitsuha was in his body. With Taki in misbelief that it even happened.
We then cut to Mitsuha who wakes up the a whole host of questions written on her, “Mitsuha? Who are you? What are you?” and her sister brings up what Taki first did when in her body, which see saw. This is followed by a short summary of what Taki got up to from her friends telling her throughout the day. Such as making a scene in class by knocking down a desk in protest of what her peers are saying about her. She is naturally shocked, just like Taki was. They then both realise they are swapping bodies, followed by another banger of a tune and a montage/summary of what the swapping is like and how they are both handling it. Which they do, in a like of love/hate relationship as they keep telling each other the do/don’ts in their bodies and personal lives. This whole montage has some funny moments in it as well.
The movie then shifts in tone to a more calming setting, again with some stunning visuals & music. We get to see a bit of the story behind Mitsuha’s town as well as the Taki finding out Mitsuha set him up with his crush for a date which caught him off guard. At the end of the day Taki tried to call Mitsuha, who left her number on his phone. At this point the next twist starts to hit. You’d think calling each other would have been the first thing to do? I did somewhat and it felt like a bit of a plot whole, but it didn’t bother me too much as the next bit explained why that wouldn’t work.
The Second Twist
The second act brings the comet that we saw at the start of the film into the movie. We see Mitsuha over the cliff at the festival, the shot from the title card at the start of the movie and and the comet split into two with a hard cut as we see the reflection of the split in her eyes with an audio cue to refer to the comet hitting the ground infront of her. We then find out that the phone call Taki made never connected, and the switching places stopped after that night.
Taki decides to travel to meet Mitsuha and his crush and school friend come with him. Its after a travel montage we find out why she didn’t pick up, she’s dead. The reveal of this is eluded to with the tone of the cut from where we last saw Mitsuha and those who pay close attention would have gotten hints to this being the case from earlier in the movie.
For me I didn’t notice the subtle hints and this was certainly a shock, I think out loud I even said “No” in a sad voice when this was revealed, I was already worried that she was dead from the audio cue in the transition when we came back to Taki. It hit me. The crystal like mysterious soundtrack here really nails the emotion here.
We learn at this point that Mitsuha died years ago, for some reason the messages on the phone get deleted which is a bit odd but needed for the plot I guess and it is confirmed Mitsuha was a casualty of the comet splitting apart. The comet being the first major clue of the time difference as there was no comet in the news in Taki’s time as it had happened years ago. With more subtle things such as the dates on their calendars on their phones not matching being an earlier reference to the time gap.
We’re then prompted to see the ribbon on Taki’s arm, another hint to the time difference. Its like the of Mitsuha had in her hair as a ribbon and we follow Taki to the shrine Mitsuha visited earlier in the movie and through drinking a bit from of Mitsuha left there at the shrine, we see some flash backing into her life and the ribbon a bit more.
Post movie I looked this up and apparently there is a thing to do with fate and the belief of being connected by hidden ribbons, they never tangle and always lead people to their destinies. Which is why the ribbon is so intertwined between Taki & Mitsuha. We also see how Mitsuha died again from the comet with the same audio cue as seen earlier, the dong acting as the comet hitting the ground.
Then Taki ends up in Mitsuha’s body again, which he is obviously relieved and then goes about trying the change the course of events in Mitsuha’s body to save her and the town. Obviously easier said than done for a high schooler. So he hatches a plan to force an evacuation with the help of Mitsuha’s friends using a bomb at the power station and the radio at the school. Knowing the school is outside the blast radius as we saw the destruction in Taki’s time from the school grounds, so its a safe place for everyone that gather.
We also learn that some of Mitsuha’s family have also experienced similar body swapping with other people and knew what was going on and new that it was Mitsuha but with someone else controlling her. This is followed by Mitsuha travelling to see Taki in her timeline, 3 years before he even knows who she is. Also trying to call Taki with no success at the same bridge Taki tries to call Mitsuha 3 years later.
The Emotions Hit
This was an emotional roller-coaster which really started now, I wanted Mitsuha to survive somehow and for them to actually meet. We see how Taki got the ribbon 3 years ago as Mitsuha gave it to him while saying her name. After only just being introduced for the first time in Taki’s eyes.
All this time Mitsuha has been making it up-to where Taki is in his timeline and the manage to meet for a moment. due to what Taki drank. They share some banter from them switching bodies which is pretty funny and Taki gives the ribbon back to Mitsuha who puts it back in her hair. You also get to see them starting to fall for each other with a really sweet soundtrack accompanying it.
They only have a moment and decided to write each others names down on their hand so they remember each other. But its suddenly cuts with the pen dropping to the floor when its Mitsuha’s turn, instantly changing to the tone with Taki struggling to remember Mitsuha’s name.
At this point the best track in the movie starts, named “Sparkle”, Taki breaks down forgetting Mitsuha’s name and we see Mitsuha executing the plan to save the town. The plan starts as intended but the adults get in the way of their plan. This whole sequence is mostly visual but gives me goosebumps every time I see it.
The most impactful moment being when Tessie see’s the comet break up as Mitsuha warned and its just in shock knowing what’s about the happen and all we can do it watch.
The music takes centre stage and is both dramatic while also being very sombre about the impending doom. Really nailing home the moment We also get to see Taki watching the comet splitting up from his rooftop in the city, having no memory of Mitsuha as this is all 3 years before the body swapping took place on his end.
We then cut to Mitsuha running to reach her father to convince him of the danger and she trips which trying to remember Taki’s name. She opens her hand to see that Taki didn’t write his name, but “I love you”. The music returns from a momentary break as Mitsuha gets up and has a stern word with her father. Then we follow the comet falling to hit the town and at this point I was literally in tears and the soundtrack hits back up into its final orchestral as the comet lands and we see the destruction it caused, not knowing if Mitsuha survived or not. But knowing that it wasn’t the same as the first time as Mitsuha wasn’t on the hill over the town watching it fall.
With Mitsuha’s fate unknown once again we return to Taki, who has returned to the city & several year have past since the visit to the comet’s creator. We see that Taki ended up just being good friends with his crush from when Mitsuha was in his body around and they reminisce over the time since and the comet accident and what happened 5 years ago when they visited the town. As expected Taki doesn’t remember what happened on the mountain, and as his friends left for the city the day before no-one was there to remind him of what he did.
Its at this point we learn that the plan worked! with some flashbacks to the news of the time reported the town was destroyed, but the residents were all at the school for an “emergency drill”. Calling it a sheer luck, coincidence. Obviously we know differently.
This is further confirmed when Taki is looking at his diary with lots of job interviews in it in a café and hearing Mitsuha’s friends in the café talking at a table behind him. On his way home we also see Taki stop and turn around at someone, who we can guess pretty easily is Mitsuha but they don’t notice each other yet.
At this point I was just wanting them to meet FINALLY! Just rooting for them fully and all. They both notice each other on a normal day through their train windows and the final sequence begins. This is another point when I was tearing up, its so well done and I rarely tear up at movies. But I was just so invested at this point.
They finally meet, initially passing each other, then both turning around thinking they have met before and the movie ends with them asking each other their names. Its a lovely way to end things, refering both to the name of the movie once more and letting the viewer guess what happens next.
I would totally recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good mystery/love story. Its not the best for replay-ability as it will never hit you as much as it does the first time watching, but that’s true for a lot of media. I watched it in the Japanese voice with subtitles as it fits better than the English dub with the emotion of the character being better portrayed in my opinion.
March parkrun is situated in West End Park in March. The course has more than ample parking next to it which is free and is right next to the park. Like a super market sized car park, you won’t have trouble finding a space. It is easy to find with a satnav, though I missed a turn and had to turn around. Which is a trend for me, as without a co-polit to navigate it is easy to miss turnings that aren’t clear.
The course is a nice 4 lap course, which is on a mixture of grass, dirt paths and tarmac paths. Each lap is just over 1K with a small set of stairs are the end of each lap which does kill the time a bit. Other than that the course is very flat with a few small inclines that are easy to get over. My watch registered the course as 3.09 miles though I did have to keep to the right to overtake people as I ran which does shorten the course a little.
This was a unique one for me as I made some friends. As always at parkrun there is a first timers briefing which tourists are also advised to listen to. I always recommend listening in as a faster runner as you’ll have less people ahead of you to guide you around the course. When asked it seemed I was the only new person/toursit. Though after being mildly shamed by being the only one to rise my hand, which was terrifying for someone like me who has social anxiety. I was joined by a first timer who was a Chinese student spending a year studying in the UK, along with a regular runner who was accompanying her.
The briefing was nothing new to me but we had some banter while having the briefing and I decided to join them on the run for a bit instead of gunning it like I normally do. Anyway we had some nice chats and finished a lap and a bit before the new parkrunner needed a break. I was her first time doing a 5K and she was in JEANS of all things, so can be forgiven xD. Because of this I decided to run the remaining laps and catch up with them after I had finished for their last lap of so. I managed to make up some good time, managing a lap in around 5:30 which was pretty fast! Ending up with a time of 25:19, which was pretty impressive given the slow first lap.
After I finished I sorted by barcode scanning and went to go find my friends again. I found them and the completed a 5th lap with them (their 4th), peeling off at the finish to no go through it again. At the end of the day it was just nice to chat to people, its something I don’t get to do that much and it really brightened up my day.
Overall the run was great and the course was pretty soild. I do plan on coming back to this one another day to beat my time and also to volunteer, as apparently they struggled to get enough for the week I turned up to run.
This week I went to Littleport parkrun. Located at the Littleport leisure centre & recreation ground in Cambridgeshire, just north of Ely. There is plenty of parking which is free to park in which is nice. Its an easy course to find, just following the main road Littleport off the A10. Turning left at Camel Road and follow the road a little and the car park is just on the left again little bit down the road.
The course was 3 laps, 2 long laps that goes around fields and paths with a 3rd shorter lap the make up the 5K. As I ran here in late summer, the ground conditions were good, though a bit uneven in places. I can imagine the course been a little harder in the wetter months. The start is a nice long straight on a tarmac path followed by a stint on a field before going though a little wooded area and along an uneven mud path which is a little bit narrow and needs focus when traversing to not twist your foot. I almost did at one point.
After that you go around the perimeter of the next field before reaching the tarmac path for the rest of the lap which is pretty straight with a few 90 degree corners. You repeat that lap again for lap 2. Lap 3 you turn from the starting path a little early and emerge into the narrow path about half way through and keep right. Once at the crossing at the end of the path you take a 180 corner and run the last tarmac stretch again and keep left to the finish. My watch registered the course as 3.07 miles which is a little short of a 5K. Though if you take the corners wide you could make up the difference.
The marshals at this event were great and all were very vocal which was nice. Their support was certainly a help for my time. I managed a PB when visiting by a nice amount finishing in 21:33 officially. Though my time was more around 21:50(ish) as I ran a little afterwards to make the distance a 5K on the watch. This is also the first time I have ever gotten first place for my age category which was nice.
I wore my lonely goat club shirt this week and it turned out that 2 of the marshals at the event were also goats. This meant I got some extra motivation when they saw me which was a lovely boost. I haven’t been cheered on directly since my pre-covid parkrun in Southampton, so it made for a ncie change. All the volunteers were super friendly and the my overall experience at this event was very positive.
Overall this is a great event to attend that I can happily recommend to anyone in the area.