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3-gatsu no Lion

Friday, December 2, 2016 / No Comments

While I was sifting through the list of anime that was scheduled to air for this year's Fall season, 3-gatsu no Lion stood out for some reason, even among titles that featured professional ice skaters, immortal demi-humans and of course, your evergreen magical girls. Part of it was due to the allure of SHAFT's visuals, which I've enjoyed immensely in both seasons of Nisekoi and Koufuku Graffiti. Thankfully, the studio has continued to impress in the 8 episodes that have so far and I don't foresee the beautiful artwork's quality dropping anytime soon.

Visuals aside, 3-gatsu no Lion's plot drew me in as well. Protagonist Kiriyama Rei is a professional Shogi player at the tender age of 17 and his salary allows him to live alone, away from his foster family. The catch here is that he's haunted by a host of childhood problems and emotional immaturity. The anime focuses on him tackling these issues by building relationships with various people, be it his homeroom teacher at school, fellow professional Shogi players and the Kawamoto family.

Through the course of the anime so far, I'm impressed by how faithful the adaptation is, with each episode even noting which chapters of the manga are being adapted. This makes things easier for viewers who wish to continue with the manga after a certain episode or even after the whole season is done.

The colourful cast of characters complement Rei's awkwardness and insecurity perfectly. Even the Kawamoto family's pet cats provide frequent comic relief with their ravenous appetites and antics. Special praise is reserved for the rotund Nikaidou Harunobu, Rei's self-proclaimed rival in Shogi. His boisterous demeanour and aggressive style of play provides the perfect foil to Rei. Like the other characters in 3-gatsu no Lion, there's more than meets the eye with Harunobu and you soon understand why he's so passionate about Shogi.

I'm amazed at the use of colours in 3-gatsu no Lion. The liberal use of cool colours and dull tones in the first few episodes depict Rei's emotions and poor state of mind. As the episode count increased, so did the range of colours. The relationships he forged with the people around him allowed him to both express himself better and eventually get rid of the skeletons in his closet. Of course, Rei still faces roadblocks in his journey, like people in real life, but scenes in complete monochrome like the one you see above become increasingly infrequent.

Providing the widest range of colours would be the Kawamoto family. Each of their scenes are filled with bright, pastel tones and watching Momo is an instant perk-me-up, with how cute she is. Hina is perhaps the most relatable character, facing your usual host of teenage problems. Akari is the dependable older sister, essentially playing the role of a parent due to their parents passing away before the start of the series. There is nary a dull moment when the Kawamoto family is present, especially when Hina becomes interested in Shogi later on.

3-gatsu no Lion hasn't even reached its tenth episode but its an anime that I look forward to, week in and week out. I might even read the manga after the anime has finished airing early next year but for now, I'm content with the anime's pacing and if the TV version already looks so good, I can't imagine what SHAFT will improve on when the Blu-Rays are released.

Written by ET

Best Tourist Spots in Arashiyama

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December is the time for travelling, and for those of you who wish to go to Japan but are sick of Tokyo, why not check out Arashiyama?
Arashiyama is a town on the outskirts of Kyoto and takes 15 to 20 minutes by train from Kyoto. We all know who picturesque Kyoto can be, and there are some sights you can see in Arashiyama which you can't in Kyoto. It is one of the popular day trips from Kyoto and also one of the most recommended places to visit if you are on holiday in the ancient capital.

What's good about Arashiyama is that even the train station is an attraction itself! For 150 yen, you will gain access to the station's natural open-air foot-bath and you can grab a rest while chatting with your friends or just to wind up before starting your journey on a cold winter day.
It comes with benches and tables for both locals and tourists to make full use of their time while winding down after a long day. The tables are even large enough to spread tourists maps across.
Not to mention, each person gets a towel to use so you don't have to weigh yourself down with your own. And apparently, a 10 minute dip would give the best results!
Near the station are many stalls lined up, selling traditional sweets and beverages. If you have a sweet tooth like myself, this would be your time-of-the-day!

It also sells numerous pretty accessories and trinkets which would leave you in awe. A souvenir shop really doesn't get much better from Japan's!
But no amount of food can beat the unique scenery one can see only at Arashiyama! The first I would mention is the Togetsu-kyo Bridge. The bridge got its name from Emperor Kameyama during the Heian Period. The right of the bridge is the Hozu River while the left is the Katsura River. But more importantly, the bridge is increasingly pretty and the landscape is changes with each season, making it an enjoyable place to go no matter what the season is.

Halt before crossing the bridge and take the time to head on up to Iwatayama Monkey Park. As the name suggests, the park is filled with nearly 130 monkeys and you are able to even partake in the act of feeding them. Definitely not something to be missed for all primate fans out there!

 If you aren't a monkey fan, no worries because there is another reason why people head up the mountain and that is for the scenery! As they say, it is always better to view scenery from a high location and that is most definitely true.

Heading past the bridge would bring you to a road lined on either sides with shops, but the main attraction here is the fabled Tenryu-ji temple.
It has been rebuilt several times since its first construction but still keeps the traditional Japanese architecture. Definitely not something to be missed if you love Japanese architecture!

Furthermore, if you continue up the path, you will come across the bamboo grove which is one of the most popular sights for Arashiyama. The soft green and mix of brown makes a very soothing landscape for selfies and group photos. With some clever editing, the brown grass can be easily changed to green as well.

The length of the bamboo gives a very good height for any photographs with your natural height, a zoom-in oneself, or even just nature on its own!

The silence in this bamboo grove is one you will not find easily anywhere else. Embrace nature and immerse yourself in the sounds and experience.

And the next final location is Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple, famous for its numerous stone Buddha images. It may appear creepy to some but the atmosphere and sights would definitely be one which you will never forget.

And last but not the least, do not forget to check out the Kimono Forest! Pillars decorated with Kimono Fabric makes the walkway one-of-a-kind and unique selfie opportunities. The clear clean fabric is pretty in the daytime, but looks amazing when it is lighted up in the nighttime too. 

All these unique sights have me awaiting desperately for the day I'll be visiting Arashiyama. I hope they made you interested in visiting too! Sharing of photos would be very much appreciated.

All photos to be credited to their respective owners.