Anime with kimono eye-candy, take 2

It’s been quite a long time since I did a post featuring anime with kimono front and centre. Since then, a bunch of new series have come out. I thought I’d share some of the ones I’ve particularly enjoyed with you all. If you have any suggestions I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear them!


Kakuriyo no yadomeshi (Bed and Breakfast for Spirits)

Sadly, this adorable romantic slice-of-life anime seems to have flown under the radar. It’s the story of Aoi, a young woman who ends up running a small restaurant in the Hidden Realm of spirits. She wears kimono nearly all the time, as do the bulk of the spirits she interacts with. Of course there’s a romance with master of the inn, the ogre king. It turns out her grandfather used to visit regularly and incurred significant gambling debts, and promised Aoi in marriage. The series features a wonderful combination of charming characters, a growing romance, and plenty of delicious food.

Unfortunately, only one season aired back in 2018 and so far there’s no hint of a second series at the moment. However, you can still catch that one season on Funimation right here.

Kakuriyo no yadomeshi on Wikipedia
Kakuriyo no yadomeshi on IMDB


Maiko-san chi no makanai san (Kiyo in Kyoto: from the Maiko House)

From the spirit world to the modern world, we now go to Maiko-san chi no makanai san. This is the story of Kiyo and her best friend Sumire. They move from Aomori to Kyoto to become maiko (apprentice geisha). While Sumire seems made for the job, Kiyo doesn’t have what it takes. Rather than leave embittered or jealous, Kiyo becomes the cook for the maiko house as well as essentially their head cheerleader. She’s supportive and encouraging and loves seeing Sumire and all the other girls in the house succeed.

This is a very slow, calm little series. Each episode is split into three chapters, interspersed with “Dish of the Day” featurettes. They get a little repetitive, but give recipes and trivia as well as giving us glimpses of the other girls in the house, so in the end I don’t mind them. If you’re looking for something lovely, soothing, and heartwarming to watch, you can check out Maiko-san chi no makanai san on NHK’s official website.

Maiko-san chi no makanai san on Wikipedia
Maiko-san chi no makanai san on IMDB


Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

I feel like including this one is a no-brainer. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is an incredibly popular franchise now, spanning from a manga to anime to movies to a stage show. It’s even on Netflix in English now, that’s how widespread its popularity is. It’s the story of Tanjiro and his sister Nezuko, who lose their family after a vicious demon attack. Tanjiro becomes part of the Demon Slayer corps, determined to avenge his family.

Taking place in an alternate-reality Taisho-era Japan, this series has plenty of action, drama, and heart. There are many traditional kimono and kimono-inspired outfits on almost all the main characters, making this a great watch for anyone interested in that. You can find Demon Slayer currently on Netflix!

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba on Wikipedia
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba on IMDB


Intrigue in the Bakumatsu: Irohanihoheto

The next alternate history/fantasy series takes place at the very end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. We follow the story of supernatural-hunting mercenary Yojiro, who joins up with a theatre troupe bent on revenge. The premise sounds quite silly when written out like that, but I’m four episodes in and totally hooked.

The kimono factor in this one is way up there, due to the troupe’s costumes and the historical placement of the entire series. Unfortunately, this series is aired on a Japanese streaming platform 2007 and isn’t currently licensed anywhere so it might be hard to find. Typically I don’t condone piracy, but it seems to be the only way to watch this currently.

Intrigue in the Bakumatsu: Irohanihoheto on Wikipedia
Intrigue in the Bakumatsu: Irohanihoheto on IMDB


Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood

Another new, unfinished series, Joran takes place in an alternate history where the Tokugawa Shogunate never lost power. They’ve also found a way to extract a form of electricity from people with a mysterious power, so the aesthetic is a fascinating combination of turn-of-the-century Japan and a modern, almost cyberpunk style.

The story follows Sawa, a Changeling woman who can take the form of a white crow. Her entire clan was slaughtered by Janome, a man determined to create artificial changelings. Sawa is a member of the Nue, a government-sanctioned execution squad.

I can’t elaborate much more than this, because this series is still currently ongoing and I don’t want to spoil anything! But so far this show has a lot of promise, and I’m eagerly anticipating the rest of the episodes. You can follow Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood now on Crunchyroll. This series has some quite graphic violence, as well as explicit nudity and sex so definitely adults only!

Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood on Wikipedia
Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood on IMDB


(This post was voted on over at my Patreon. If you want a chance to vote on upcoming content, as well as get sneak peeks and exclusive content, please consider supporting me. Perks start at $1 a month!)

Mini-Review – Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san (Kiyo in Kyoto) Anime

If there are three things I love in my media, it’s slice-of-life, food, and kimono. I got a good dose of all those while watching Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi and then all three of them with bonus drama while watching Watadou, and now there’s a new anime out to fill that niche even better! Only one episode is out so far, so this won’t be any sort of an in-depth review, but I’ve been anticipating this anime ever since I found out the manga (which I love) was being adapted.

Kiyo preparing a huge lunch for the maiko – All images courtesy of NHK

Known in Japanese as Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san and in English as Kiyo in Kyoto, this is the story of Kiyo, a teenager who moves to Kyoto and becomes the live-in cook for an Okiya (maiko residence) where her friend Sumire is in training to become a maiko. One of the things that makes their dynamic, and the whole show really, so wholesome is how supportive of Sumire Kiyo is. Initially they were training together, but it’s explained that Kiyo was too clumsy and not graceful enough, so she is taken on as the cook. Rather than be jealous that her good friend is en-route to become a very popular geisha, Kiyo is her biggest cheerleader. It’s sweet and charming and we need more positivity and happiness like this right now.’

Sumire and Kiyo in the kitchen – All images courtesy of NHK

The girls all dressed up for work – All images courtesy of NHK

There’s a broad range of kimono in just this one episode, from the day-wear of the maiko while they’re out running errands to the more elegant outfits of the Matron and dance Sensei. And of course, there are the elaborate, colourful outfits of the maiko which we see only briefly but I’m sure will become more of a central visual element as the show continues.

Squid Mince, an Aomori comfort food – All images courtesy of NHK

A cute segment is where Kiyo and Sumire discuss their “dish of the day”, a dish or food tradition mentioned in the show. There were several in this episode, and they do feel a bit filler-ish and repetitive, but they’re still informative and interesting so I don’t mind them yet. That might change after multiple episodes though XD. I’ll likely be doing a follow-up on this series (and a few others I’ve been meaning to share) in an Anime with Kimono Eye-Candy entry sometime soon.

You can watch the first episode of Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san/Kiyo in Kyoto in Japanese with English subtitles and occasional English narration explaining culture and traditions of the geisha district on NHK World right here!

 

Review – Watashitachi wa Douka Shiteiru (Cursed in Love)

I’ve got something a little more fun and laid-back for you today. Over the past few weeks I’ve been dragged into an addictive j-drama called Watashitachi wa Douka Shiteiru, the story of Nao, a young wagashi artisan. As is typical with j-drama, especially ones based off manga, the story is quite convoluted,

Fifteen years ago, Hanaoka Nao and her mother lived in the staff quarters of Kogetsu-An, the famous wagashi shop. Young Nao grew close with Tsubaki, the heir to the shop. Everything seemed perfect until Nao’s mother was framed for the murder of Tsubaki’s father.

Nao currently has the chance to solve the mystery that threw her life into shambles by concealing her identity, rejoining Kogetsu-An and marrying Tsubaki. But can she keep her secret and guard her heart?

The manga and live-action adaptation both go by the full title of 私たちはどうかしている or Watashitachi wa Douka Shiteiru. It’s often shortened to Watadou, due to the title being a bit of a mouthful. Things get complicated when it comes to English translations; the most common translation is We Are Not Ourselves and most fansites will refer to it as such, but the official title on the English NTV page lists it as Cursed in Love, and the English manga is published under the name Something’s Wrong With Us. So if you see any of these titles and get confused, don’t worry, it’s all the same thing! This show has too many names, I swear.

I was initially drawn to this series because so many of the characters are always (or nearly always) in kimono. But once I started watching, I was hooked. Do you enjoy any of the following?

  • Delicious wagashi.
  • A dying patriarch.
  • A scheming oujo-sama matron.
  • Beautiful kimono.
  • Unhealthy but passionate romance.
  • Murder.
  • An enigmatic and fashionable gentleman.
  • Angry ikebana.
  • Hilarious secondary characters.

If so, you’ll find something to love about Watadou. This show really does have it all!

It’s definitely on the more camp/soap-opera side of j-drama, with plenty of intrigue and overblown drama (the aforementioned scheming oujo-sama matron literally throws a flower vase at Nao, fans herself with money while bribing someone, and even does the ~ohohoho laugh at one point). You can tell it was adapted from a manga, due to the level of theatrics and even the way many of the scenes are framed. Does that mean it’s bad? Absolutely not. For some reason I was expecting a more “serious” drama at first so it took me a few minutes to get into the swing of it all, but once I did I was hooked.

Of course, my fascination with it is helped by the fact that the show is steeped in traditional Japanese elements. Not just the wagashi, although that is the most prominent, but also tea ceremony, and most important to me – all the gorgeous kimono. Nao’s wardrobe is split between her Kogetsu-An uniform, western-style clothes, and kimono, and the Kogetsu-An kitchen staff are shown almost exclusively in their uniforms, but nearly everyone else is always in kimono. Whether it be Tsubaki and his family, or the traditional clients who patronise Kogetsu-An for their delicious sweets, the show never lets you forget that this is a world slightly removed from modern, bustling, urban Japan. The show is massive eye candy for anyone into kimono.

The show’s official page on the NTV site is all in Japanese, but it is a treasure trove of imagery worth exploring. There are separate pages for all the beautiful wagashi, as well as individual kimono fashion pages for Nao (the protagonist), Tsubaki (the love interest), Kyoko (the matron), Grand Master (the patriarch), Shiori (the jilted fiancée), Takigawa (the enigmatic gentleman), and even Yuko (the restaurant owner). You can use your browser’s translation features to read information and stylist thoughts for each outfit.

I also tried to grab a selection of screenshots that showed off the lovely aesthetic of the show without spoiling anything! There’s one feature wagashi from each episode, and a ton of kimono. You can really see how gorgeous the wardrobe is.

Typically, I don’t like to suggest piracy but currently this show has no official English subtitling or distribution, so the only way to watch it is through fan-subs. I’m following the ones over at Blitz Fansub and so far they’ve been quite fast and reliable (if you don’t mind the occasional typo). However, if the show ever does receive an official translation I do urge you to check it out. I just hope they don’t try to adapt and re-localise it, because it’s so dependent on the magic of traditional Japanese industries. I feel like it would lose too much if they changed the setting.

Movie Review – Batman Ninja

If you know me, you’ll know that aside from being a big kimono geek I’m also a big comic book geek. So when I saw that DC Animation was collaborating with Kamikaze Douga (an anime production studio known for some very bizarre cult titles) on Batman Ninja I knew I was going to have to watch it. I had zero plans to review this movie, I initially just thought I’d watch it for fun, since it combines two things I’m very fond of. But then I started watching it and realised I had A Lot Of Thoughts that called out to be shared.

First off, let me say, this movie is a trip and a half. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just be prepared for ninety minutes of utter ridiculousness. The animation studio are the same folks who put out some of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and all of Pop Team Epic, so if you’re familiar with either of those shows you’ll have an idea of the flamboyant craziness to expect. If that intrigues you, click through to read on! Continue reading

Anime with kimono eye-candy

Recently, I shared a couple of cute movies with kimono eye candy, and I thought it would be fun to share a few anime as well.

As I’ve gotten older, I’m watching far less anime than I used to but every so often a little gem comes along, and sometimes these have some great kimono ensembles. Certainly, there are scenes in nearly every long-run anime that involve one or more characters wearing a yukata to a summer festival, or a kimono on a holiday, but the ones I am sharing here have regular appearances, different outfits, and lots to ogle!


Kuragehime

Kuragehime (Jellyfish Princess) is an adorable recent anime about a group of young female otaku living in a boarding house together. The primary story is about the protagonist, Tsukimi, coming into her own and standing up for herself while the girls in the house band together to protect it from the Big Bad Real Estate Developers.

For me, however, one of the main draws was the character of Chieko, whose obsession is with all things traditionally Japanese. In each episode, she wears a different kimono ensemble, and they’re all really cute and inspiring. She also dresses Tsukimi up in kimono at one point, with lovely results. One of my favourite moments of the show is when the “stylish” Kurako gives all the girls makeovers, but changes virtually nothing on Chieko because she looks like “a celebrity who wears kimono because she’s rich” once she’s framed by all the other girls in their stylish new looks. How fab is that?!

Kuragehime on IMDB
Kuragehime on Wikipedia


Taishou Yakyuu Musume (Taisho Baseball Girls)

I’ve just started watching this, despite it being a few years old, and it’s absolutely adorable. Set in the Taisho era, there’s an interesting juxtaposition of traditional Japanese clothing and modern western-inspired wear. The main character, Koume, dreams of wearing a sailor-style fuku uniform, but her parents insist that the Meiji-style kimono and hakama are much more suitable for her. Several of her other classmates also wear the traditional outfits. The outfits don’t seem to change from episode to episode, but they’re still nice to look at.

Taishou Yakyuu Musume on IMDB
Taishou Yakyuu Musume on Wikipedia


Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to make it clear that I have not yet seen this anime. It’s on my list of “things to watch when I have free time”, but the main reason it’s even on that list is due to the kimono. Not only does the main (male!) character always wear kimono and hakama, they vary from episode to episode and are seasonally and formally appropriate for the weather and events. For a kimono dork like myself, this sounds really fun and exciting.

Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei on IMDB
Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei on Wikipedia


Ikoku Meiro no Croisée

This is the beautiful story of a young Japanese girl named Yune who finds herself in Victorian-era Paris. It’s mostly a slice of life show about Yune’s adaptation and confusion, and there is no particular over-arching story or dramatic climax, which makes it absolutely lovely to just watch an episode or two and enjoy the combination of late Taisho and fluffy Victorian aesthetics, combined with lovely Art Nouveau designs and architecture.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée on IMDB
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée on Wikipedia


These shows should all be available for purchase by this point.