Savouring the Animations of Shinkai

10/09/2017 at 11:33 AM (animation, Movies, Romance, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

It has been a while since I’ve written about Japanese animations. They came to my attention again when I was searching for a gift for my now ex-boyfriend. I know I’ve praised Miyazaki before but this time my words of adulation will be for the storytelling skills of Makoto Shinkai. His body of work has received comparison to works by the illustrious Studio Ghibli animator but the creator of 5 Centimers Per Second and Children Who Chase Lost Voices is rather self-effacing about his talents.

5 Centimers Per Second

The film consists of a triptych of acts: Cherry BlossomCosmonaut and 5 Centimeters per Second.

In the first act, Takaki Tōno, the main character, becomes friends with Akari Shinohara when she transfers to his elementary school. The classmates foster a deep friendship because they have lots of mutual interests and end up spending recesses together often; even when they talk to each other, they don’t use honorifics, a sign of closeness in Japan. When Akari moves to Tochigi after completing elementary school because of her parents’ jobs, the two friends keep in contact through post but this communication slowly fades as time passes. This part of the story is set sometime before the arrival of cellphones and email. When Takaki hears that his family will be moving to Kagoshima, he decides to visit Akari in person first because they will be living too far apart to regularly see each other. Before he visits, Takaki also composes a letter that expresses his feelings about her. On the way to see her, Takaki loses the letter and a severe snowstorm pushes the train schedule behind several hours. When the two finally meet each other again, it is a temporary, touching and bittersweet reunion during which they talk for hours. They make sentimental promises to each other and after the events of the night spent amongst the snow, Takaki decides the loss of his letter was not important. He never realises there was a letter he never got as his train leaves, because the audience see a letter from Akari addressed to Takaki that never changed hands to the addressee.

In the second act, we see Takaki attending senior high in Tanegashima and he is blind to the love shown by Kanae Sumida, who is not brave enough to admit her feelings. Despite all her efforts at winning him over, Kanae remains in the friend zone. She sees that Takaki always appears to be writing emails or looking off into the beyond. We learn these emails are sent to nobody and he often has recurring dreams that feature Akari. After an attempt to confess her love fails, Kanae decides what she could offer to Takaki will not be enough to satiate what he desires and keeps the truth of her love locked within her heart.

In the third act, Takaki has become a computer programmer in Tokyo while Akari is preparing to get married to another man. His feelings for Akari that he has been unable to shake impact negatively on his life. Eventually a depressed Takaki leaves his job, unable to cope with his unresolved feelings for Akari. Meanwhile Akari goes through her old belongings and discovers the letter addressed to Takaki. The two characters narrate in tandem, both recalling a dream depicting the events of their last meeting in the snow and hoping to watch the cherry blossoms together again.

One day walking down a road, Takaki and Akari appear to recognise each other as they walk past at a train crossing, where they had watched cherry blossoms together thirteen years ago, before Akari’s moving to Tochigi. At the opposite sides of the tracks, they begin to look back but the passing trains cut their view. Takaki waits for the trains to pass and sees Akari is gone. After a moment, he smiles to himself and continues walking.

Makoto’s film gives a realistic view of the struggles many face against: time, space, people, and love. The title 5 Centimeters Per Second comes from the speed at which cherry blossoms petals fall, the petals being a allegorical representation of humans, evoking the slowness of life and how people often start together but drift into separate ways.

Children Who Chase Lost Voices

Asuna is a young girl who has been forced to grow up quickly due to the death of her father, while her mother, a nurse, works long shifts at a hospital. Asuna spends her solitary days listening to the mysterious music emanating from the cat’s-whisker receiver her father gave to her as a memento.

One day, while walking to her clubhouse across a bridge, she is attacked by a fearsome creature and saved by a mysterious boy who calls himself Shun. Asuna treats Shun’s wound from fighting the creature and later they both listen to Asuna’s radio. Shun tells Asuna he is from another country called Agartha and that he came to this place to find something. He then gives Asuna a blessing in the form of a kiss to the forehead. Asuna leaves hurriedly and tells Shun she’ll be back tomorrow. Shun, now alone, looks up at the stars and falls from the ledge to his death.

The next morning, Asuna hears from her mother that a boy was found dead in the river, but refuses to believe it’s Shun. In school, Mr. Morisaki, a substitute teacher, is giving a lecture on a book which grabs Asuna’s attention when he mentions Agartha, the land of the dead. After school, she visits Morisaki and asks him about Agartha. Morisaki explains that long ago when humankind was young, it needed the guidance of Quetzalcoatls (keepers of the dead) until humans matured and no longer needed them, so they went underground along with a few humans who joined them.

Afterwards, Asuna goes to her hideout to find another mysterious boy who looks like Shun standing on the ledge. Just then, a group of armed men who the boy calls the Arch Angels, appear and attack the both of them. The Arch Angels’ commander captures Asuna and uses a crystal called the clavis to open a gateway to Agartha. The commander and Asuna enter the gateway followed by the boy. Once inside the commander reveals himself to be Morisaki and the boy also reveals himself to be Shin, Shun’s younger brother. Morisaki tells him that all he wants is to bring back his late wife from the dead. Shin leaves Asuna and Morisaki.

Morisaki tells Asuna that she can go back but she decides to accompany him. They both go into the realm via an underwater entrance. Once inside they go on a journey to the Gate of Life and Death which can bring the souls of people back from the dead.

Upon arriving in his village, Shin is told that he has failed in his mission to retrieve that clavis, because Asuna has unknowingly returned with a fragment of one. Shin re-embarks to stop Asuna and Morisaki from wreaking havoc in Agartha.

Along the way Asuna is kidnapped by a race of monsters called the Izoku. In their hideout she meets a young girl named Manna and they both try to escape. In their escape attempt, they encounter Shin who helps them but is wounded by an Izoku. Morisaki finds Asuna and Manna down the river as well as Shin. Shin tries to retrieve the clavis crystal that belongs to Asuna. However, he is too weak to put up a fight and Morisaki easily defeats him. Asuna convinces Morisaki to take him with them while Manna leads them to her village.

Once there, the villagers are, at first reluctant to help the “top-dwellers” but the village elder convinces them to let them in. The elder allows them to stay one night at the village. Meanwhile Asuna checks up on Shin but Shin yells at her telling her to leave him alone.

The next morning Asuna and Morisaki depart from Amaurot. Shin wakes up later and after hearing the villagers riding away to kill them, decides to follow in order to protect Asuna. Morisaki and Asuna are walking towards a steep cliff when they are attacked by the villagers but they are saved by Shin. Asuna, being too scared to climb down, stays while Morisaki continues, leaving her.

Meanwhile Shin is fighting the villagers and is about to be killed when the villagers sense that the clavis crystal has reached the Gate of Life and Death and leave Shin to wander aimlessly, having betrayed his country.

Asuna is walking aimlessly and asking herself why she came to Agartha and finally accepts that she came to Agartha because she was feeling lonely. She is then attacked by the Izoku but saved by Shin. Asuna and Shin return to the cliff after seeing the Ark of Life descending. They encounter a Quetzalcoatl who is about to die. Before he dies, Quetzalcoatl offers to take them to the bottom of the cliff.

At the bottom of the cliff, they both find the Gate of Life and Death and enter it. Inside they find Morisaki who tells Asuna she shouldn’t have come and she is soon possessed by Lisa, Morisaki’s late wife. However Shin is able to destroy the crystal Morisaki has used to make his wish. Before she leaves Asuna’s body, Lisa tells Morisaki to find happiness without her. Asuna is now back to her normal self but Morisaki is devastated and asks Shin to kill him but Shin tells him that he must live. Asuna heads back to the surface and saying farewell to Shin and Morisaki, who stay behind. The film ends with Asuna, looking out her window at the cliff side where she had met Shun and Shin. She then says her goodbyes to her mother as she hurries to her graduation ceremony as an older teen.

This film is his longest animation film to date and is described as a “lively” animated film with adventure, action, and romance centered on a cheerful and spirited girl on a journey to say “farewell”.

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Cape Schanck

10/07/2017 at 4:34 AM (Activities, Environment, Travel, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Cape Schanck is located on the southernmost tip of the Mornington Peninsula where the wild sea water of the Bass Strait unites with the calmer water of Westernport Bay. It was named after Admiral John Schanck who designed the Lady Nelson centreboard and who was also was commissioned in 1799 to survey the coast of Australia.

These days the most imposing and defining landmark of Cape Schanck is the 21m tall Cape Schanck Lighthouse which was built and completed back in 1859; it is actually the second lighthouse built in Victoria and the first lighthouse tower in possession of stone stairs. Entry fees do apply for tours of the lighthouse and small museum.

A prominent geological formation is Pulpit Rock which stands out at the very tip of the cape. This can be accessed through the wooden staircase and scenic boardwalk which descends to the beach but look out for large, fierce waves in winter which may wash across Pebble Beach.

Another walk available through the main car park is the 2.6km Bushrangers Bay Track which abounds with lovely coastal scenery and this first lookout is an insight into several that follow. For anyone who would like more information or more detailed notes, a guide to this walk is available for purchase.

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The Best Pictures of 2012

01/01/2013 at 12:51 PM (Photography, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Welcome to 2013. Toward the tail end of 2012, I kept reading but found it draining to write reviews after commuting home and on weekends, I spent time with family and friends which led to the ignorance of this blog. Besides after my trip Spain & France, I visited Fiji in November and then Hawaii in December which led to a lot of my focus to be concentrated on vacation planning. So this year, I’ve decided to mainly focus on photographs. But I’m going to share my usual best of 2012 photos before sharing my 1st photo for the collection of 2013 tomorrow.

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© Sarasi Peiris

The Temple of Debod is located in Madrid, Spain. It was donated to Spain by the Egyptian government as a token of their gratitude for Spain’s assistance in saving the temples of Abu Simbel.

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© Sarasi Peiris

This is the last gothic cathedral that was built in Spain. It is located in Segovia and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

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© Sarasi Peiris

This is the view from the rooftop of the Castle of Segovia. The castle used to be a fortress which eventually came to be of use to Queen Isabella I of Castile.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Park Güell is a garden with architectural elements designed by Antoni Gaudi. It is one of the largest architectural works in south Europe.

Dali's Mae West

© Sarasi Peiris

The Mae West Lips sofa is a surrealist sofa by Salvador Dalí. It is located in The Mae West Room as a display in the Dalí Museum in Figueres, Spain.

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© Sarasi Peiris

The Arc de Triomf is a memorial arch in Barcelona. It was built for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas.

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© Sarasi Peiris

The Parc de la Ciutadella is a park in Ciutat Vella, Barcelona.  The park includes a zoo, a lake, a large fountain and several museums. It is the greenest place you can go to in Barcelona.

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© Sarasi Peiris

This is the exterior of the Ohla hotel. It is extremely eye-catching.

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© Sarasi Peiris

The Palau de la Música Catalana is a a concert hall in Barcelona, Spain. Designed by architect Lluis Domenech I Montaner, it is the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated only by natural light during daylight.

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Molokini Crater

Molokini is a half-moon shaped part submerged volcanic crater located near Maui, Hawaii. It is popular for scuba diving, snuba and snorkeling. This was my first photo with a hired underwater camera.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Casa Batlló is an architectural masterpiece designed by Antonio Gaudi. It is located in the middle of the Passeig de Gracia, which was known to be a prestigious and fashionable area. It is locally known as the House of Bones.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain formed out of pink conglomerate located near the city of Barcelona. It  is famous as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa maria de Montserrat. Since the 12th century, pilgrims journey to the mountain to worship the statue of the Black Madonna (La Moreneta).

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© Sarasi Peiris

The Magic Fountain was designed by Carles Buigas who had a history of creating illuminated fountains. It is just below the Palau Nacional on the Montjuïc hill. Since the 1980s, music has also been incorporated with the fountain and light show.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Wicked Walu is a restaurant located on a private island on the beautiful Coral Coast of Fiji and belongs to the Warwick Fiji Resort & Spa. The seafood here is superb.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve is located on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii.  It is known for its abundance of green sea turtles and parrotfish.

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© Sarasi Peiris

The Halona Blowhole is located on O’ahu, Hawaii. Formed by molten lava tubes from volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago, the lava tubes run to the ocean and when the surf is right, the blowhole shoots water up to 30 feet in the air.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Iolani Palace, located in Honolulu, Hawaii, is the only royal palace belonging to the United States. The statue is of King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810.

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© Sarasi Peiris

The USS Arizona Memorial, located in Honolulu, Hawaii, marks the resting place of thousands of sailors and marines killed during the Pearl Harbour attack on 7 December 1941 by Japanese forces.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Keauhou is a beautiful area in Hawaii’s Big Island. At night, the Keauhou area attracts manta rays that feed on microscopic plankton near the shore. It is even possible to go on a manta ray night dive should you wish to do so.

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© Sarasi Peiris

Kona is a district in the Big Island of Hawaii. The region is famous for producing premium coffee.

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