1.23.2020

A few of my favorite animes.

Since I did a list of my favorite foreign films, I felt that I needed to also make a list of my very favorite animes. Anyone that knows me well knows I am an avid anime watcher. If it came down to giving up Netflix or my Crunchyroll membership, I don't think I can do without my Crunchyroll. I like watching these in Japanese, as I prefer watching all things it in original form (casting and language) and that is also how I practice and learn more Japanese.

Movies

Ghost in the Shell. Mamoru Oshii.
I debated including this in my favorite foreign films of all time, as Ghost in the Shell transcends anime and is definitely in my top movies of all time. I recently rewatched it and the camera work, UI and animation are still ground breaking. This was made in the 1995. This movie affected film making and UI of many tech products in more ways than you realize.



Your Name. Makoto Shinkai.
Makoto Shinkai has quickly become one of my favorite directors. I have seen most, if not all, of his films. Your Name was on my top movie list of 2016. The nuances of how he portrays every day life and its complexities is superb. Not to mention that his animation is just plain gorgeous, especially his backgrounds. I also really enjoyed his series She and Her Cat, which you can watch on Crunchyroll. I just saw Weathering With You at The Roxie last night and it is another stunner.



Spirited Away. My Neighbor Totoro. Hayao Miyazaki.
Miyazaki is a classic and master and most people's entryway into anime. I think my first one of his may be Spirited Away, then I made my way down the entire Studio Ghibli catalogue. I own a few of his movies and I enjoy rewatching them from time to time, especially with children.





Hotarubi No Mori. Takahiro Omori.
This is a short and only 44 minutes and I watched this on Crunchyroll. A girl gets lost in the forest and gets rescued by a spirit. They begin a friendship. Then the plot thickens...



Grave of the Fireflies. Isao Takahata.
This WWII orphan story may be one of the saddest and powerful animes I have seen. It gives you a glimpse into the aftermaths of Japan after WWII on its people. This is an extremely haunting movie.



A Silent Voice. Naoko Yamada.
This is one of those slice of life animes that is extremely relevant and poignant. It's about a bully and a deaf girl in his class and his interactions with her when he gets older in making amends. Another powerful story.



Ninja Scroll. Yoshiaki Kawajiri.
Anyone that knows me well would know about my twisted sense of humor and that I can lean toward the dark side as much as the light for things of beauty. There is something very beautiful about the animation of Ninja Scroll, so much that I watched this daily in college for a year. I was so happy that this animation studio also ended up doing 2 of the Animatrix stories.



Series

Paradise Kiss. Nana.
I love the illustrations of Ai Yazawa from these mangas (I own all of Nana). The anime of both lives up to my expectations. In fact, I own the box set of Paradise Kiss (very hard to find). I love fashion, Vivienne Westwood, punk rock and anime. I also own the soundtrack of Nana.





Food Wars. Shokugeki no Soma.
This is a crowd favorite right now. How do you sexualize food and still make it a very charming story with real recipes? Of course the Japanese figured it out! Then I went to a party with mostly chefs and was telling Hiro Sone about this show as I think he would love it and he tells me he actually went to Totsuki. Go figure!!!



Yona of the Dawn.
I really love this manga too and I am still reading it. Action. Adventure. Unrequited love. Betrayal. Dragons. Kind of...



Skip Beat!
I love Kyoko and her misadventures. I am following the manga religiously. It's just so charming and funny.



Chiharafuru.
I had no idea what karuta was until I watched this show. I can almost even speaking in these 100 poems. ALMOST.



Ouran High School Host Club.
This is the most ridiculous premise: a high school girl, who looks like a boy, accidentally breaks a really expensive vase at the club of a rich high school. The boys mistake her as a boy and she then becomes a member of a high school host club to pay off all the debt owed for the vase. Trust me, it's hilarious.



Samurai Champoo.
Yes, yes, I've seen Cowboy Bebop, but I still prefer Samurai Champoo.



Demon Slayer.
A boy becomes a demon slayer as he wants to avenge his family who got wiped out by them. His sister got turned into a demon but is traveling with him during his quest.



Psycho Pass.
By the same studio that did Ghost in the Shell. This is a super dark anime. Season 2 is even more gruesome and I do not recommend that one. Season one poses some very interesting philosophical and ethical questions...



Your Lie In April.
This is a beautifully charming (and sad) story. Definitely one of the more emotional ones. Just watch it.



Kids on the Slope.
Love the soundtrack. Love the story. I really like these slice of life animes in case you haven't noticed.

1.12.2020

A few of my favorite foreign films.

Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.
-Bong Joon Ho



In honor of Bong Joon Ho's beautiful movie and his Golden Globe win, here is a list of some of my very favorite foreign films. Perhaps it will inspire you to see more if you have not seen them already. Enjoy!

Side note: I would advise against watching Hollywood remakes of foreign films or the Hollywood version of foreign directors. As they are typically at best mediocre and does not even come close to its original.

Old Boy. Park Chan-Wook.
Quite possibly one of the best revenge films I have ever seen. I also really enjoy his other movies as well.



In the Mood for Love. The Grandmaster. Wong Kar-Wai.
Wong Kar-Wai is on my list of favorite directors of all time. I would recommend In the Mood for Love and The Grandmaster.





Hero. Zhang Yimou.
Hero may be one of the most beautiful kung fu films ever made. But The Grandmaster is close behind...



Remember what I said above regarding Hollywood remakes? Pay attention to the next 3.

After the Wedding. Susanne Bier.
This may be my all time favorite movie. I love the way Susanne Bier tells these very emotional stories. I also enjoy the rest of her movies as they are all very powerful.



Secret in Their Eyes. Juan José Campanella.
I saw this shortly after After the Wedding and was blown away by both films.



Let the Right One In. Tomas Alfredson.
Such a beautiful film with perfect casting.



The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Niels Arden Oplev. Yes, David Fincher remade it and he had a much bigger budget. Doesn't make it better however. He had perhaps a better opening sequence and much more polished art direction.



Amélie. Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
While I own Amélie, I also enjoyed the rest of Jeunet's collection: Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, etc.



Ran. Dreams. Akira Kurosawa.
I love how Kurosawa does these epic period Japanese dramas inspired by Shakespeare. I've seen most of his films and they are all very poetic, as you would imagine from a master such as himself.





Amores Perros. Alejandro González Iñárritu.
This was my first Iñárritu film. It's so incredibly beautiful that I went down a rabbit hole of all his films.



Y Tu Mamá También. Roma. Alfonso Cuarón.
I remember shortly after watched Amores Perros I went down the Gael García Bernal rabbit hole as well and watched Y Tu Mamá También. Those 2 movies can really break your heart because they were so emotional. I started watching Roma at home one night and stopped a few minutes in, as it was playing on the big screen in 70mm (how it was shot) at the Castro theatre. I would highly recommend that if you ever get the chance.



1.01.2020

12.25.2019. Sir and Star. Olema. California.

This Christmas I was supposed to spend it with Lauren in Santa Fe, but due to circumstances beyond her control, we decided to celebrate her heath here in the Bay Area instead with Deb. Lauren had the brilliant idea of making a reservation for Christmas lunch at Sir and Star. Hilariously, I have tried to dine at Sir and Star a few times when I am up North but they have been closed each time.

What I really loved about this meal aside from its minimalist rustic decor (all the way to the loo) was the very reasonable portions with the great food. They even had a very reasonably priced wine list as well if you are budget conscious. I can see this being a new annual tradition of mine.

Sir and Star
10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
Olema, CA 94950
415.663.1034

dinner rolls, rustic rye bread
butter scented with sage, sweetened with our honey
and a spread of devilishly housemate ham

a soup of bolinas butternut squash
etched with a syrup of inverness apples
lavished with curls of crisped leeks

wild and tame mushrooms
chanterelles and local gold: the grand porcini
tumbling over a cheese soufflé's of point reyes toma

wild arugula draped over carpaccio of dates
from the desert plot of a bolinas farmer
crowned with a confetti of pomegranate
served alongside a streak of our yogurt

a tiny tim christmas turkey
with thyme scented sourdough stuffing
laced with sausage of devil's gulch heritage pig
with a mash of marin potatoes, the gift of gravy
and a chutney of wild plums from the point

ice cream of coastal buffalo milk
filling pastry puffs dipped in deep chocolate
finished with a flurry of almond toffee



































Then we walked around Inverness after lunch and drove back before it started pouring again.



12.14.2019. Ladytron. The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall. Berkeley, California.

My friend Reuben came into town with his band Ladytron as it was the last show of their tour with the new album. Naturally I got off the couch to see him in the East Bay and to catch up after the show. Fun fact: there was only 1 bar open until 2AM in Berkeley. Sacrilege. But perhaps that is why they are such smarties over there...

The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall
2036 University Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704

11.24.2019 + 12.30.2019. Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup. San Francisco. California.

Daeho is a new Korean favorite comfort of mine. So far, I have been to it twice in 2 months. It took me a bit to try it out due to the long lines there and they do not take reservations. I like going a bit earlier than they open for lunch and get in there right when they open for the first seating. The first time we got the galbi jjim (braised beef prime rib) with oxtail and the second time we got the galbi jjim as they were sold out of the ox tail already. I added vegetables both times as everything is a la carte. The quality of the meat is very high, much like Park's BBQ so the price point is a little higher than your average, but well worth it. You can choose your spice level from 1-4. I typically go between 1-2, and 2 has a nice kick in the flavor. I would say this is better for a group due to the large family style portions. 

Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup
1620 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94115