Fragglepuss Anime Review 249: Whisper of the Heart / Mimi wo Sumaseba

Whisper of the Heart / Mimi wo Sumaseba

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Drama, Romance, Studio Ghibli, Country Roads

First Released: July 1995, 111-minute film

Summary: Shizuku is a 14-year-old on summer vacation who spends most of her time at the local library. She begins to notice how most the books she checks out have recently been checked out by someone named Seiji Amasawa. Shizuku follows a mystery cat off the train one day and ends up at an antique shop ran by Nishi, Seiji’s grandfather. On top of all this library mystery, Shizuku is writing a song about her city based on the tune of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Directed by Yoshifumi Kondou, Whisper of the Heart is the first Studio Ghibli film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Isao Takahata, although Miyazaki was a producer and storyboard artist for the film. Kondou is successful in telling the story of a young girl that is unsure of herself and her future. It utilizes the slice of life genre in a captivating way where the storyline progresses at a perfect pace without feeling rushed. Sometimes slice of life shows drag on and get boring, but Whisper moves along well. It’s a refreshing change how the stakes are not high in this film. Most of the Ghibli films have crazy-high stakes that involve the world ending or being changed forever. I like those films as well, but it provides a relaxing change of pace with Whisper and how the story is simpler. It’s just about a girl trying to find her place in the world.

The art is amazing, but that should not come as a surprise for a Ghibli. The backgrounds are well done and full of detail. You can tell when the wind is blowing and which direction the sun is facing. The soundtrack is my favorite part of the film, especially with it being a central plot point. Shizuku is writing lyrics throughout the film and it’s fun to watch the lyrics and sound develop. I’m not one to judge on the subs vs dubs debate, but it’s fun to listen to all the singing in Japanese to hear how beautiful it sounds.

You might enjoy this if: You have watched the big-name Ghibli films like Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke, and are looking for another show to fill your Ghibli need.

You might not like it if: You hate music in all its forms. This movie has it all: singing, violins, stand-up bass guitar, tambourine, etc.

Similar Films: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Garden of Words, From Up on Poppy Hill, The Cat Returns, Flavors of Youth, 5 Centimeters per Second, Fireworks

Note to the Viewer: Whisper of the Heart was the inspiration for the 2002 Studio Ghibli film, The Cat Returns, which focuses on The Baron and his life.

Whisper of the Heart Official Trailer


AMV –Hold On by Virginia Chan

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 248: Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) / Gake no Ue no Ponyo

Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) / Gake no Ue no Ponyo

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Kids, Studio Ghibli

First Released: July 2008, 101-minute film

Summary: Sousuke lives with his mother, Risa, on a cliff by the sea. During the day his mother works at the assisted living center. The only interaction he has with his father is when he comes close to shore in his ship and flashes messages across the water. Sousuke and Risa get along well enough, but something is missing for both of them. Risa wants her husband to get off his ship once in a while and spend time with the family. Sousuke wants a friend. Everything changes one night when a storm comes in and Sousuke comes across Ponyo, a delightful little goldfish. Fantasy and reality clash as Ponyo begins to exhibit human-like traits and have a desire to become more like Sousuke.

Ponyo is directed by none other than Hayao Miyazaki himself. The story is based on The Little Mermaid, but it’s nothing like the Disney version. It has an anime twist that makes it significantly more enjoyable if you ask me. The artwork is classic Ghibli with incredible attention to detail, from the characters to the bubbles in the water. The backgrounds are gorgeous and lifelike. The underwater scenes are magical and animated beautifully. The soundtrack is composed by Joe Hisaishi and it lives up to the expectation of adding to the film. The combination of storytelling, animation, and music provide an amazing Ghibli film that is geared towards children but can be enjoyed by all.

You might enjoy this if: You are looking for a light-hearted entry into the anime universe for you and the family, or just yourself. Ponyo does a terrific job making a kid’s film that is not just cheap laughs for kids. It tells a deep story while being able to keep the children interested.

You might not like it if: You are afraid of the ocean.

Similar Shows: My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Secret World of Arrietty

Note to the Viewer: Miyazaki went back to his roots with Ponyo. Some of the previous Ghibli films had used computer animation, but Miyazaki insisted that Ponyo be entirely hand-drawn. The end result was 170,000 hand-drawn separate images to complete the film, a record high for a Miyazaki film.

Ponyo Official Trailer


AMV – Counting Stars by Ellipselris

(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers. I figure if you haven’t seen the show, you don’t know what’s getting spoiled anyways, right?)

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 247: My Sweet Tyrant / Akkun to Kanojo

My Sweet Tyrant / Akkun to Kanojo

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life, Short-Form

First Aired: Spring 2018, 25 short-form episodes

Summary: Nontan is head-over-heels for Akkun. The two high school students are technically dating but their relationship is far from normal. While Nontan expresses an interest in Akkun and is always attempting to do cute things for him, Akkun acts like he doesn’t even like her when they are together. When Akkun is alone or with his close friends, his true feelings come out. He is deeply in love with Nontan and everything she does. He admires her actions and can’t get enough of the delightful things she says.

My Sweet Tyrant begins with a relationship that appears problematic on the surface but ends up being deeper than that. It is always clear that Nontan cares for Akkun. On the surface it seems like Akkun is a verbally abuse boyfriend that doesn’t even like Nontan. As the episodes progress we see that Akkun is truly in love with Nontan and he just has a difficult time expressing his true feelings when he is with her. We get to know a few other couple throughout the series, which is also enjoyable to watch. The episodes run short at only three minutes a piece, but you really get to know everyone by the time the series is over.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick and easy romcom without a huge time investment.

You might not like it if: You want more than simple back-and-forth interactions that make up entire episodes.

Similar Series: Engaged to the Unidentified, Garden of Words, Glasslip, High Score Girl, I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Lovely Complex, The Master of Killing Time, My Love Story, One Week Friends

Note to the Viewer: The My Sweet Tyrant manga was launched in 2013 and has eight tankobon volumes released to date.

My Sweet Tyrant Clip

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here


Kabuki at Kabuki-za

Kabuki is classical Japanese theatre known for its stylization of drama and elaborate makeup worn by the performers. It is the most popular of the traditional Japanese drama. Some other forms include Rakugo and Bunraku. The stage design is essential to kabuki, from the hanamichi extending from the main stage to the mawari-butai (revolving stage). Three main categories of performances exist: historical, domestic, and dance pieces (jidaimono, sewamono, and shosagoto).

They have made Kabuki foreigner-friendly using audio guides in multiple languages.  The guide provides essential translation of dialogue and lyrics, as well as explanations relating to the stories that may be difficult for non-Japanese visitors to understand. Another foreigner-friendly option is to attend a single act rather than a full play.

Kabuki-za is the main theatre for kabuki. It was originally built in 1889, but was rebuilt in 1911, 1924, 1950, and 2013. Once it was destroyed due to fire, once due to earthquake, once to bombing during World War II, and once as a complete rebuild due to earthquake concerns. Kabuki-za runs plays year-round. If you are going to catch a single act of the play, you have to show up morning of to buy tickets. You can only buy one ticket per person. Show up early to ensure you can get a seat.

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 246: Ojisan and Marshmallow

Ojisan and Marshmallow

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Romance, Marshmallows

First Aired: Winter 2016, 13 short-form episodes

Summary: Hige is a middle-age office worker with an unhealthy obsession for marshmallows. He tries to hide his passion, but the truth always comes to light. Wakabayashi works with Hige and has a huge crush on him. She attempts to get close to Hige by always having a bag of Tabekko marshmallows available when he’s around. The clueless Hige has no idea that Wakabayashi is flirting with him.

Ojisan and Marshmallow is a simple and adorable show about co-worker romance. The episodes are less than four minutes each and tell the day-to-day story of Hige and Wakabayashi’s friendship. There is not a lot of character development, and you don’t get to know anyone besides the main two, but those two characters are enough to carry the short series that has a total run time of less than an hour.

You might enjoy this if: You are an office worker that has seen this type of romance play out before. Sure, it probably did not revolve around marshmallows, but if you have worked in an office long enough you have seen one coworker attempt to charm an oblivious one.

You might not like it if: You want an entrée-type series rather than a dessert.

Similar Series: Aggressive Retsuko, High Score Girl, I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Lovely Complex, My Love Story, Wakako-zake

Note to the Viewer: Make sure to watch until the very end of each episode, where you will learn quick marshmallow recipes for your enjoyment! Also, make sure to watch episode 13. It is completely different than the rest of the episodes and totally bizarre…

Ojisan and Marshmallow clip

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Sanja Matsuri at Asakusa Shrine

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Sanja Matsuri at Asakusa Shrine

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here


Sanja Matsuri

Sanja Matsuri “Three Shrine Festival” is one of the three great Shinto Festivals in Tokyo. It is held at Asakusa Shrine in honor of Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari, and Hajino Nakatomo, the three men who established and founded the Senso-ji Buddhist temple. Throughout the weekend portable shrines (mikoshi) are paraded to the main shrine to be blessed for the following year. Each mikoshi is carried by locals to their shrine. Every group adds their own flair to marching the mikoshi, from chants to taiko drums. The festival atmosphere is loud, joyous, and energetic. Traditional Japanese attire surrounds you, from kimonos to yukata.

The roads leading up to the temple are full of vendors selling traditional Japanese goods. The temple grounds are also full of vendors selling food and other goods. Some of the vendors have children’s activities set up. I’ll say this, it is so crowded. An estimated 2 million people visit each year. If you don’t like big crowds, don’t go to this festival.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Yebisu Beer Museum

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Yebisu Beer Museum

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here


Yebisu Beer Museum

I had never heard of Yebisu beer before visiting Japan. I am so glad I have heard of it now! The Beer Museum is located in Yebisu Garden Place, a beautiful and pleasant area to visit. Within the area are restaurants, shopping, a department store, a hotel, and a Michelin 3-star restaurant. The Garden Place is built on the former Yebisu brewery. The beer company gave Ebisu its town name in the 1800s.

The Yebisu Beer Museum is the most immaculate building I have ever seen associated with beer. Giant beer cans adorn the entrance as well as a statue of its founder. You could have your wedding in the grand entrance of the museum, which is astounding. A 40-minute tour with a Yebisu Expert is an option that includes samples. A self-guided tour of the brewery’s history is another option. The tasting salon is an experience of its own. You buy Yebisu coins which are then exchanged for food or drink. The pour on these beers are the best I’ve ever seen. They perform a perfect pour for the first 2/3 of the glass then pull a separate tap that tops of the beer with a delicious head.

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Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan and the Fragglepuss Introduction to Sumo

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan and the Fragglepuss Introduction to Sumo

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here


Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan

If you are going to schedule your visit to Japan around an event, I recommend the cherry blossoms, the festivals, and the sumo tournaments. A tournament is held every other month and lasts 15 days. The January, May, and September Tournaments are held at the Kokugikan in Tokyo. The March Tournament is held at EDION Arena in Osaka. The July Tournament is held at DOLPHINS ARENA in Nagoya. The November Tournament is held at Fukuoka Kokusai Center in Fukuoka. It will make for a more enjoyable experience if you learn the basic rules of sumo before attending. I started with the basics and went further down the rabbit hole of sumo as I was learning the rules and history. It’s such an intriguing sport with an incredibly rich history.

Introduction to Sumo

Sumo is a full contact wrestling sport where two wrestlers face off, attempting to force one another out of the ring or into touching the ground with anything besides the soles of their feet. The sport originates in Japan with the first professional tournament dating back to 1684. The matches are associated with Shinto ritual, from the shrine roof over the dohyo to the salt thrown for purification purposes.

Common sumo terminology includes:

  • Rikishi – Wrestler
  • Dohyo – Wrestling ring
  • Mawashi – The cloth rikishi wear during a match
  • Banzuke – Listing of sumo rankings published before each tournament
  • Honbasho – Grand sumo tournaments
  • Gyoji – Referee
  • Kimarite – Winning techniques


Professional sumo is split into six divisions:

  • Makuuchi
  • Juryo
  • Makushita
  • Sandanme
  • Jonidan
  • Jonokuchi


Within the top Makuuchi division are four titles:

  • Yokozuna
  • Ozeki
  • Komusubi
  • Sekiwake

Wrestlers start in the Jonokuchi division and work their way up to the top Makuuchi division through winning tournament records. Generally, a winning record at one of the six yearly tournaments will move the wrestler up a division while a losing record will move them down. The Makuuchi titles are more complicated and take longer than a single tournament to gain. Yokozuna is the top honor a sumo may earn, and few wrestlers receive the prestigious title.

A few additional factoids:

  • Everything has significance in sumo. The referees wear different outfits showing various rank. The outfit a sumo wears before their match denotes their division and title. Even the differences in topknot mean something.
  • While technically forbidden, it is common and expected for spectators to throw their seat cushion into the ring if a Yokozuna is defeated by a lower-ranked wrestler.

If you’re attending a tournament, know that each tournament day begins with the Jonokuchi rank and works up the divisions as the day passes. It’s an option to show up the morning of the tournament and buy a single ticket, but make sure you show up at least an hour before the box office opens and know that you can only buy one ticket per person in line. These tickets are the cheap seats, but they are significantly less expensive than other tickets. The seats are far back, but it’s not that bad. It’s just such a blast to be there taking in the whole experience. The start of the day will be practically empty in the arena since it’s lower division wrestlers, but the stadium will be packed by the end when the Makuuchi are wrestling. I spent the whole day at Kokugikan and could have spent another day there, but if you’re the type that only wants to watch a few matches, you can show up early to buy your ticket then go back in the early evening to catch the top bouts. I’ll say this, the Japanese stadium experience was beyond anything I’ve seen in the United States. The sumo merchandise was amazing, and the food choice was incredible. I bought mochi ice cream, bento boxes, Shochu hi-ball (alcoholic beverage), sake, beer, and several types of noodle dishes.

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Anime Banzai 2018

Anime Banzai 2018

Layton, Utah

October 19-21, 2018

Review By: John Fragglepuss Evans

The 14th annual Anime Banzai took place this weekend at the Davis Conference Center. 2018 guests included: Natalie Hoover, Ben Dunn, David Vincent, Cole Feuchter, Kiba Walker, and Steve Nunez aka Warky T. Chocobo.

Some of the events at this year’s Banzai included a card/tabletop gaming room, an arcade/video game room, the vendor hall, Artist’s Alley, a scavenger hunt, Banzai Village, Kid’s Corner, countless panels, and two viewing rooms that offered anime all day long. The main events included Banzai’s Got Talent, the Opening Ceremony, Cosplay Chess (The Fall of Batman), Banzai Olympics, AMV Contest, Cosplay Contest, and the Beacon Formal Ball.

Anime Banzai’s charity quilting auction returned this year. All proceeds will be donated to charity.


The AMV Contest showcased 34 videos this year in the main event room.

Some of my favorites were:

Bananya Cat Cuteness Overload by Studio Le Croc


aLongHotSummer by AngelMaeVictory


Shiny Teeth by Glitzer


Bullets Rain by Rider4Z


Wild Boy by Taniya Mills


Imagination by Taniya Mills


A Thousand Words by Mysunsai


Counter by UnluckyArtist


Thanks to everybody that attended our What’s New in Anime 2018 panel. We were short a panel member this year. Unfortunately, Alec Unisicker passed away last month due to cancer. We dedicated this panel to his memory. Our panel crew will always feel his presence with us even though he has passed on. The rest of our panel crew included Breanne Evans, Brittany Evans, Lindsay Starke, and myself.

There’s so much anime that comes out every year so it’s difficult to funnel it down to so few. The anime we covered in the panel include:

  • Harukana Receive
  • Hanebado!
  • Megalo Box
  • Love is Hard for and Otaku
  • Citrus
  • Children of the Whales
  • That time I got Reincarnated as a Slime
  • Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits
  • Junji Ito Collection
  • Phantom in the Twilight
  • Ancient Magus Bride
  • Libra of Nil Admirari
  • A Place Further Than the Universe
  • Garo: Vanishing Line
  • Angels of Death
  • Holmes of Kyoto
  • Chio’s School Road
  • GeGeGe no Kitaro
  • School Babysitters
  • Kokkoku: Moment by Moment
  • Kino’s Journey: This Beautiful World
  • High Score Girl
  • Cells at Work
  • How to Keep a Mummy
  • Goblin Slayer
  • Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san
  • Pop Team Epic
  • Zombieland Saga

Thanks to everyone that attended our Visiting Japan panel, presented by Lindsay Starke, Breanne Evans, and myself. We have traveled to Japan the past few years and wanted to share some of our recommendations for others traveling out that way. If you want a recap of the locations we covered, you can check out my post series on recommendations while visiting Japan:

Visiting Japan


Anime Banzai is always well run and organized. I appreciate how the organizers of Banzai strive to make it an interactive convention with something for everyone. There’s a variety of panel topics, various main events, all sorts of games, and even a courtyard for dancing at any time of day!

Photos courtesy of Breanne Evans. Feel free to use, but please give credit to for taking the photo.

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Fragglepuss Anime Review 245: Love is like a Cocktail / Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara

Love is like a Cocktail / Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life, Drinks

First Aired: Fall 2017, 13 short-form episodes

Summary: Chisato Mizusawa is an office manager that maintains a professional demeanor at work. After long stressful days at the office she unwinds when her husband Sora mixes her a drink. Sora is a former bartender that has a drink for every occasion. When paired with a delicious meal, the married couple has the perfect recipe for relaxation.

Love is like a Cocktail is short, sweet, and simple. Each episode is the perfect length at only three minutes a piece. You get to know a little about Chisato and Sora, you learn about a drink and meal combination to fit the occasion, and you finish with Lemon-san teaching you how to mix the drink of the episode. The drinks of the series include:

  • Plum Splet
  • Irish Coffee
  • Orange Breeze
  • Cinderella
  • Spritzer
  • Bellini
  • Egg Sake
  • Zoom
  • Shandygaff
  • Frozen Mango Cocktail

You might enjoy this if: You are looking increase your drink knowledge while having fun at the same time.

You might not like it if: You are not a drinker.

Similar Series: Wakako-zake, Restaurant to Another World, BAR Kiraware Yasai, Bartender, Himouto Umaru-chan, I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying

Note to the Viewer: The Love is like a Cocktail manga series has been printed since 2015 and has seven volumes published.

Love is like a Cocktail Official Crunchyroll Trailer

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