January/February Favourites: Kicking Ass on the Couch

Hey everybody and I hope you have all had a lovely start to the new year 🙂 I hope everybody is kickstarting their 2017 with some happiness and all of the positive juju! So far my 2017 has been uneventful (unfortunately) so I don’t have a lot to share about, but of course I was able to find a thing or two these past two months that I have been indulging myself on!

Kickboxing 

Okay so maybe not what you were thinking of. Or maybe you were, seeing as the most common New Year’s Resolution of all time is usually fitness/health related. Well this is my version of the fitness resolution! I have decided to trade in my gym membership for a membership at a nearby Kickboxing club! Now I spend a lot of time sitting around on my free time playing video games and watching TV/movies (as you all probably know) so perhaps it would be healthy for me to get some sort of physical activity in my life… I’ve always had a lot of trouble getting myself to the gym for a workout… And if I did make to the gym, it would take a lot of willpower so not leave a workout early or just take a 7 minute sit break before half assing my workout. Well I believe that I finally found a workout style that I actually enjoy!

What could make me feel more bad ass than throwing some punches and kicks at another (padded) person?

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Now me talking about fitness goals and physical activity isn’t what you guys come here for… Let’s get talking about me being my usual Couch Panda self

Yuri!! On Ice

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Have you guys heard about this anime? It feel like it has been taking the world by storm since my Twitter feed was littered with YOI gifs and fan art for the entire month of November and December. In fact, it even won Anime of the Year on CrunchyRoll! Before starting it, all I knew about it was that it was a sports anime (yes, if you didn’t know, that is an actual genre in anime) all about, wait for it… Men’s Figure Skating. You know, that sport that everybody forgets about until the Winter Olympics comes around and then everybody is attached to their TVs watching Virtue and Moir do their thing on the ice (no? Just Canadians?). Yeah, there’s an entire series dedicated to the thing… and it’s fantastic.

The lead character Yuri (from Japan) is just your everyday guy who happens to be a world class figure skater. Or at least he was before he totally botched a routine at the Grand Prix Final and totally lost all confidence in his talent. He goes back to his small hometown where a video of him practicing his idol’s skating routine goes viral. The next day his idol Victor shows up at his parents’ hot spring hotel and vows to become his new coach! And that’s the main set up for the show. Skaters from all over the world are introduced (including a lovably over-confident Canadian skater JJ) to compete against Yuri for that coveted spot in the Grand Prix Final.

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I wish I can pinpoint what I loved about this anime. Maybe it’s the light hearted style, maybe it’s the meticulous detail put into the animations of the routines, maybe it’s the blatantly obvious sexual tension between Yuri and Victor (side note: when Googling more about the anime and images for this post, I entered that weird part of the Internet…)? All I can really say is that if you ever had your doubts about whether or not to start the anime (and trust me, I wasn’t the only one), give it a shot. Give the first two or three episodes a try and judge it after that.

Food Wars

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Have you ever wanted to become a great cook? So great that your food is life changing and brings people to tears? Maybe even gives such an overwhelming sensory experience that their clothes explode right off? Well then gosh, this is the anime for you. It’s all about a top notch cooking academy in Japan for high school students and their journeys to become the best chefs in the world.

It follows the story of Yukihira Soma, the son of a chef of a famous diner in his home town. It would be quite the understatement to say that he has confidence and ambition, especially when put up against these world renowned culinary prodigies from around the world. He faces off with numerous characters in competitions called “Shokugeki” where a worthy bet is placed, based on the outcome of the match – usually if Yukihira loses, he has to either leave the school, or stop cooking in general. There is such a wide array of characters and cooking styles that it would’ve been difficult to not get pulled right in. My personal favourites are Hisako’s medicinal food style, Tadokoro’s hometown comfort food, and Hayama Spice Explosion style.

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Now what I (and knifey_spoony, who watched this with me) loved about the show was the ridiculous over the top style of everything. Everything was high stakes. And because it was so over the top, this anime parodied a lot of the major genres. Everything was presented with such regal and theatrics. Of course, the Japanese anime trope of over-sexualized women was parodied by not only women’s clothes bursting off, but it happened to the men as well. It took the trope and turned the dial to 1092857 – it was so ramped up that I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous the scene was.

And then they played with the classic fighting anime tropes by their use of image composition. They would use similar angles and backgrounds for the cooking scenes to fighting or training scenes in those animes. There would be a long suspenseful charge up (I’m looking at you Dragonball Z) with the chefs throwing quips and having intense stare downs, and then a huge burst of intense chopping and stirring and baking before the end result. My favourite scenes were always the ones where a character was mutter the words “Shokugeki” and then the intense challenge music would come on.

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Seriously, if you are a lover of food and anime, especially those classic silly anime tropes, you NEED to check out this anime. Though, I do warn you that 95% of the time, this show will make you hungry so maybe prepare yourself with a couple snacks nearby.

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And that’s all my new favourites for the month of January and February! I know, super boring… But this just means that I NEED SOME RECOMMENDATIONS! Toss something at me down below in the comment section, or you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @panda_monium ! I’m always happy to hear people’s recommendations for indulgent content 🙂

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