A legend has passed on

Today I woke up to the news that the mangaka of Berserk, Miura Kentaro, passed away on the 6th of May. And I was devastated.

I grew up with Berserk when it was released in 2003 by Dark Horse, together with Blade of the Immortal, it was my baptism in the world of Japanese comics. I was blown away by the work of detail in this dark fantasy world. The story was gripping, the style made you crave for more. Miura-san had me hooked on manga.

The joy I felt whenever a new volume came out and when I read the last page the tension harsh waiting game began for the next release. I wasn’t that active on the internet and the community in the Netherlands is very small, because I am not a big fan of going to anime-cons. The crowds just do me in. But I had a coworker with whom I could chat and speculate about the story’s progress.

When I grew older Berserk stayed with me. But you also find out the dark side of being the mangaka of a popular series. Your publisher wants a steady schedule in which you deliver quality work. And these schedules in Japan are insane. Look at Shonen Jump that comes out weekly, which means if you are serialised in that, you need to deliver a new chapter once a week. It’s crazy. Sadly, so many mangaka had to take a long period to recover their health. And with Twitter these days, they are exposed by the disappointment of their fans when their favourite series is on hiatus. Some comments are outright vile.

Miura-san struggled with his health and trying to keep fans happy. And now he is no longer among us. I have a deep respect for this man. Mangaka’s have assistants to help them but this is not an easy life. They often crunch together to make the deadlines pulling many late nighters. He wanted his staff to be able to have a family life and he gave them the chance.
Just wished he looked out a little bit more for himself.

I shouldn’t read the comments on Twitter under his respect posts, but sadly I did and still some fans don’t understand and called him lazy for not keeping up with the schedule or taking breaks. Crying about what will happen to the story. For me the story ended when Miura-san passed. I don’t need more. I’ll cherish what he has given me.

It reminded me of the time the wonderful Terry Pratchett passed away. I was blessed to have met him in person, we had a little chat about how his books gave me joy. I didn’t want someone else to finish his books, I was fearful that they couldn’t carry the spirit he had. So when I heard that in his last will he asked for his hard drives to be destroyed by steamroller my heart made a little jump. That’s the Terry Pratchett I know and love.

I have a few mangaka left on my list that give me the same joy as Miura-san. I hope they look out for their health.

Street Art Tour in Rotterdam

It’s been a taxing few months at the office and I needed a short break. When the commotion died down I mustered up my courage to ask for some time off. Mind you, my boss is not a difficult person but I just thought there was no space in the planning and I had to wait until the end of May for my other short break. So I booked a hotel in a remote part of Rotterdam, in the harbour area.

Rewriters Rotterdam have a map of all the street art locations across town and they do guided tours. But because Covid-19 is still throwing his merry self around I decided to try finding them solo. When it’s a bit safer again I will book a tour through them.

I haven’t found them all which was a shame, I did everything by foot and seeing that I haven’t walked long distances in ages I was knackered after two days. I could have gotten a OV-bike but I hate those with a passion. Coaster brake how I loathe you.

My love for street art is pretty big. I admire these artists as they use brick or concrete as their canvas. When I lived in Belfast the ugly and menacing murals sometimes were replaced by beautiful and inspiring street art. Balaclavas and guns hideous, animals or fairies or anything not remotely like a balaclava is awesome. I’ll write about the street art I found there in another post.

Disclaimer: description is my interpretation and does not reflect the artists. I can be totally wrong. 😉

Central District

Speech bubble
Baby turn the light on
You talkin’ to me?
We are absolute beginners
Tour de Rotterdam
Shapes

Near the Erasmus bridge

Gnomeo and the Eye of Sauron
Rockin’ Roller
Rock tha Boat
Truckstar 1
Truckstar 2

Central Rotterdam

The Birds
Crazy Horses
We are the world
Captain Colourful
Flower Burst
Soul Sister

I missed quite a few locations like the Great Wave off Kanagawa and Death. But that means I will go back with a decent bike next time.

Wholesome Twitter part 2

Yesterday had been a very tough day at work due to the snowfall and citizens being inconvenienced. Everyone worked their asses off to get things going but with less traffic on the roads, the road salt wasn’t able to do its work properly. The roads became skating rinks.

Mondays are my days off but Friday they requested if I could switch days because of the weather forecast. The trains didn’t run on Monday and the roads were dangerous so the work from home team was on full force while the office team might not be able to come in. It was busy right of the bat and didn’t slow down until late in the afternoon. Only perk was that time flew.

My call total was around 78 at the end of the day, which is an average of 10 per hour. I could do more but the calls were all explaining why the main roads have priority and the residential areas couldn’t be swept yet. And those aren’t 4 minute calls. ^^;; Road salt doesn’t work if not enough cars drive over it. Most people were understanding but we all had unreasonable people on the phone. Weather alert was red/orange with warnings to no go on the roads, but sadly this falls to deaf ears for some. I know some work cannot be done remotely but demanding your employees to come in and they get in an accident makes you an ass. Or ordering food to be delivered is just selfish letting someone else risk their lives. But yea, everything for the 24-hour economy.

So I needed some TLC and I went on a Twitter endorphin binge again.

https://twitter.com/uuumumudoll/status/1359107869384142849

I follow a lot of Japanese doll artists on Twitter, especially the anime related dolls. I’m always admiring the customs made that just make the original producer of the dolls pale in comparison. Look at the complete styling of this doll. The faceup is very cute, the wig styling is stunning and the outfit is amazing.

Because the heads are made of vinyl I have no confidence in painting or carving them myself. I feel safer with resin because when I mess up I can remove the make up with acetone. If you do that to a vinyl head it prolly melt XD.

I once tried my hand to buying a custom from Japan via Yahoo auction but I dislike bidding wars. The price can be steep but in my honest opinion it is worth it. Some people spend a lot of cash clubbing in the weekend, buy designer clothes or bags and I spend my money on dolls. Each to their own.

The wooden dolls made by Suekichi Haruo are just adorable. I mean those little ducks look like that duck pull toy that was around when I was a child. I think this design just makes me feel nostalgic. I am always attracted to simple but cute design and wooden toys and figurines never get old. Wood working is an admirable skill and I am sad the popularity had been dwindling the last decade. But I see a slight revival of it these days and luckily it is also becoming a sustainable revival. I’m not an advocate cutting down any tree to make stuff of it.

Further down Haruo’s feed you will find more cute designs like frogs and turtles. I had hoped to travel to Japan in 2020 and maybe stumble up these in a small store. Maybe next year. =)

My SO at times makes fun of me when I like cutesy pastry or desserts. I just can’t help it. In Asia you see this more then in the Netherlands because cute sells. We have elaborate cupcake decorations but cute cakes are more often bought for kids’ parties and I am judged too old for this stuff XD.

Another plan for the Japan trip was going to a character café and eat cute food. Even if it is more about looks than taste. Some YT’ers I follow were underwhelmed by the taste but I feel I need to have done it once to satisfy my appetite.

https://twitter.com/PonkichiM/status/1358931323159674880

PonkichiM is an illustrator that drew me in with their vegetable fairy book. The idea that hidden among vegetables and fruits you have these animal fairies was just so awesome. I really want a Napa Dog (Chinese cabbage Dog) and no worries they flee before someone tries to eat them XD.

Now these designs are being turned in collectable figurines and I am a little bit jealous of people that can order them. My Japanese is not anywhere good enough to order from the website and often they don’t ship abroad. One day I hope I can own my own Napa Dog, Sweet Potato Newt or Red Radish Fox. But for now I admire from afar.

Kickstarters for February

Since I left Belfast in 2016 I haven’t funded a Kickstarter at all. I kinda lost interest and spend my funds on other things XD. But when I saw the seedling animal planters Kickstarter on my Twitter feed the platform spiked my interest again. Twitter can be bad on the wallet ;).

I have been following leikya , an English artist, for a while on Twitter. Her cute but simple art style is addicting to buy merchandise of. I pledged for planter, dish and enamel pin but the hardest part for me will be coming up when the pledge time ends and that is which type of planter I am going to choose. I’m leaning towards the fox but the cat is very cute too. Hardest decision of my life! JK

Since this Kickstarter is based in the UK I really wonder what the custom fees will be since they left the EU. It’s not a large pledge of £35 so I think it won’t be that bad. But the cuteness is killing me. And then I need to figure out which plant it will carry. I’m a sucker for cute pots and plants and I am hoping to build a larger collection. It will go nicely with my Pusheen pot.

Isn’t it cute?

The other Kickstarter is a farm sim game called Coral Island made by developers from Indonesia. I love farming sims and this is situated on an island, what more can a girl wish for. Also the game studio is a newly found Indie studio based in Indonesia. Supporting the roots! There will be fruits and flowers featured whom are native to Indonesia and I hope we will hit the pledge target of $175.000 so bug catching will be added. The counter is now on $162.000 so we are getting close.

I chose the $45 pledge which contains a digital Steam Key and a Pre-Alpha key, Digital OST, Digital Artbook and a Kickstarter Exclusive Farmer outfit. I’m pretty psyched to play another sim next to Animal Crossing. Can’t wait for this one to come out!

There were many more projects I would have loved to help fund but I needed to make choices because I set a firm budget for myself. Maybe March will bring some new fun projects around.

Wholesome Twitter part 1

During the pandemic Social Media (SM) has been a blessing but sometimes a burden. With every channel you have drama and not so fun stuff and I really needed to filter what I take in so it won’t feed into my anxiety. My presence on Facebook is decreasing but on Twitter it is increasing. Easy to use and retweet stuff that I like from other creators. I say creators as I follow a lot of artists on Twitter but in moderate I also follow a few actors, musicians and writers like Mark Hamill, Stephen King, Tom Morello and Mark Ruffalo.

As I said earlier SM has it’s ups and down. Luckily, you can create a bubble for yourself and keep it relatively drama-free. Of course some of the accounts will post political statements at time. Stephen King and Mark Hamill have been really active the past four years discussing the political climate of their country, which everyone is in their fullest right to do, but I refrain to read the comments that they get. My SO said most of the shitty comments are by intentional trolls. But we all know the biggest online troll was president of the US of A and I really doubt he did this just for shits and giggles.

So yeah, I try to not get dragged in the Twitter drama as often as I like. That’s why I like to share some of the accounts that I follow for some wholesome content. =D

https://twitter.com/molcar_anime/status/1355719136815378432?s=19

Pui Pui Molcar aired by BANDAI NAMCO Arts Channel. If you like guinea pigs and handmade stuff this is a cute account to follow. Look at those little beady eyes of the guinea pig cars, so cute! =3 If you want to see their shenanigans, go check out their YT channel. Don’t worry about it being a Japanese show, it is complete visual fest and easy to follow for your kids.

https://twitter.com/dokirosi/status/1355631373105692679?s=19

Doki is a Brazilian illustrator / comic book artist / queer fantasy stories enthusiast / plant mom who has successfully launched an urban jungle Kickstarter so you can get enamel pins, stickers, tote bags and prints. I just love these types of illustrations and if you are a plant mom/dad who wouldn’t want a print or a pin of your babies on the wall. Fab use of colours and technique.

https://twitter.com/plussecret126/status/1355790365790400523?s=19

Plussecret is a Monchhichi and doll café based in Asakusabashi, Tokyo. I wanted to visit them on my trip to Japan in 2020 but alas the pandemic happened. You can buy Monchhichi & Friends goodies and tasty treats. When traveling is sensible again I will get my hands on Chimutan, the bunny you see on the left.

https://twitter.com/cocoro_bz/status/1355756151850233861?s=19

This plush hospital just melts my heart. Professional plush doctors and nurses take care of your beloved plushies and restore them to their former glory.

I used Google translate to get a rough understanding of the post (for Japanese it is really shit, don’t use it to talk to Japanese people please).

The seal is called Sirotan and was stuffed again to become a full and happy seal again.
Mr. Utsubo, the moray eel, underwent some dental care and has new cute little chompers.

My Twitter is @clogsnsneakers and I would love to connect with you 😀

Hot Toys – The Mandalorian

Besides BDJ’s and other dolls I own a few Hot Toys action figures. These are a bit more expensive then your regular action figures but way more detailed. But really they are toys for grown ups: 1. because of the hefty price tag and 2. because they are very fragile.

When the Mandalorian was announced I was a bit skeptical about it. I didn’t really like Boba Fett and never saw the other prequel movies besides the Phantom Menance. I know, I know, how can you call yourself a Star Wars fan if you didn’t watch the prequels. I read a lot of books on Star Wars to fill in the Star Wars canon, same with the comics. I think Darth Vader has cool moves and all but Anakin Skywalker is an annoying emo-teen/grown up. But George Lucas is to blame for the acting in the movies not the actor. I am really happy that they had John Favreau as director of the Mandalorian.

Mando’s preorder came up on the website of Gator, which also has a physical store in Nijmegen, so no import fees for me YAY! The release date was set around November 2020 but due to the pandemic I noticed that a lot of merchandise production had a lot of delays. Very understandable because the workers need to be able to work safely. But a week ago I finally received my shipping notice.

What I love about Hot Toys Sixth scale figures is the work that they put in these figures. It has little holster with a strap for his blaster, his rifle has a strap, the cape looks and feels like weathered fabric and you can attach sensors and explosives to his belt. My other Hot Toys are Captain America and Deadpool, so Mando will be a bit out of place XD.

Boxed Art
Tightly packed
His rifle is one of my favourite weapons
Close up with more details

Can’t remove his helmet, so no Pedro Pascal underneath but that’s fine. I was a bit worried when I had to stick the spikes in the base. They are very snug fit and I was afraid I would break them when using too much force. Luckily for this my SO has a delicate hand. All in all I am really happy with this figure. I plan to do a future photoshoot with all his poses and photoshop a Star Wars worthy background in. That will happen when I finally find my adapter for my DSLR camera. I misplaced it a few months ago and been making photos with my mobile instead.

Newest member to the doll collection – Liesl

Liesl – a Petworks Momoko doll

There are different types of dolls in my collection. I have Barbies, Disney fashiondolls, Holala’s, Blythes, Pullips, Ruruko’s, Azone, Dollfie Dreams, Smartdoll and several BJD’s but never owned a Momoko. She hails from the same company that made Ruruko: Petworks. I felt guilty purchasing a Momoko outfit all most two years ago and didn’t have a doll to put it on. So I finally dragged my sorry butt of procrastinate mode and bought one from Dolls Moe. I didn’t feel like dealing with custom fees as I have a few packages from Japan on the way so I opted purchasing her from a Spanish based shop. And she is wearing a Kirby Sweater Dress. I love Kirby.

Cute Kirby photo on the box. *hearts*
Close up

She was made in 2018 so she has been around on the market for a while now. I tried getting the newer versions but they sell out fast lol.

She comes with a plastic baseball cap, gray rubber sneakers and light blue tights. The best thing about this doll is the poseability. She has articulated joints like all the other types of fashion dolls which makes them easy and fun to take photos off. When the weather is better I will take her for a few outdoor shots.

The inside of the box is line with drawings of peaches and I realised that momo is peach in Japanese so maybe her name is something like Peach girl. Let’s look it up online.

Momoko (桃子, 百子, 杏子, ももこ, モモコ) is a Japanese name for girls. Momo is usually written with the kanji character 桃 for “peach” or 百 for “one hundred” or 杏 for “apricot”, followed by -ko, a common suffix for girls’ names (meaning “child”).

It’s adorable and I think a very fitting name for the brand of Petsworks. X3

Sits like a charm on the edge of my laptop
Standing on her own

The dealer added stickers, a winter postcard and a little wallet calendar as gifts. This is why I like buying from dealers, they add little gifts when you buy from them. I will certainly use them.

Out of the box Liesl shows a lot of character and I am really happy that I finally got a Momoko doll of my own. I see a lot of potential with this doll and hope to design her some clothes. Is she classy, more sport or just the mori type girl? One thing is sure, this doll is going to be a lot of fun to sew for. The hardest part will be finding fabric with small print. Maybe look into creating my own print on cotton. Ah, the possibilities. Something great to do to get through the extended lockdown.

Amaterasu Nendoroid

Since the game came out on the Nintendo Wii I have been a big fan of the character Amaterasu. I even bought the ports to PS4 and Switch when they came out. It’s just such a fun game with a different playing concept. You need to beat your enemies with strokes of your Celestial Brush and other Celestial weapons like the Glaive, the Rosary and the Reflector.

So when Good Smile Company announced their version of Amaterasu in the form of a Nendoroid I had to jump the band wagon. The problem with me an Nendoroids is that I am running out of cupboard space. XD So I limited myself to only buy the cool ones like Hatsune Miku and some of my favourite game-characters. If they going to make Final Fantasy XI or XIV ones I am screwed.

I ordered them either directly with Good Smile or my go to Japanese store AmiAmi. Good Smile sometimes throws in a bonus item like keychains or stickers. So it really depends on what is added from what place I will ordered it.

DX version which means 3 Celestial Weapons ;P
DX version which means 3 Celestial Weapons ;P

Good Smile released two versions: the regular one and the DX version. The DX version has all Amaterasu’s weapons so I opted for this version. Can’t have the Goddess of the Sun without all her weapons.

Inside the box
Inside the box
Bits and bobs
Bits and bobs

All Nendoroids come with several option parts to be able to change the expression or stance of the figure. The open mouth lets you hold a sexy turnip or just howl a battle cry. You are able to let Amaterasu sit while listening to the annoying Issun. He is the little green orb that is your guide through the game.

Amaterasu with Glaive
Amaterasu with Reflector
Amaterasu with Glaive
Amaterasu with Glaive
Amaterasu with Rosary and sexy turnip
Amaterasu with Rosary and sexy turnip

I will display her in a running stance with Glaive. Just because the Glaive is my most favourite weapon in the game.

Go Amaterasu!
Go Amaterasu!

Sakuna: of Rice and Ruin

My SO purchased this Nintendo Switch game for me as a Christmas gift. This game is part farming simulator and part dungeon questing which is for me the best of both worlds.

The story begins as a group of humans crash a Divine feast and Princess Sakuna, the spoiled harvest goddess, isn’t able to remove them from the heavenly Loft Realm without accidentally setting fire to the offerings of the head goddess Lady Kamuhitsuki. Sakuna, her familiar Tama and the humans are then banished to the Isle of Demons where she takes upon a quest to banish the demonic beasts before she can send the humans back to their own world. With rice farming she will gain possession of her powers again to fulfill her quest.

Sakuna - Towards the Isle of Demons
Sakuna – Towards the Isle of Demons

There is quite a lot of humor in this game. Princess Sakuna is truly a spoiled goddess who didn’t really care of the peril the humans were in at the start of the game. By receiving this quest from Lady Kamuhitsuki she might learn a bit of humility and respect for the humans that spent much effort and care into producing the offerings for the gods. The developers gave the bratty princess a lot of different expressions to show her dismay with the quest and the fact that she is now caretaker of a bunch of humans.

Banished!
Banished!
It is their fault!
It is their fault!

The game has two different play modes. When you are exploring the dungeons you are in side scrolling mode and use your magical sash & hoe to battle the demonic beasts trying to make battle combo’s so your enemies are defeated faster. As of yet I’ve only ran into demon bunnies, boars and sparrows but I bet there are more diverse enemies further in the game.

When working on your rice paddy the game switches to first person mode and you can work around freely in a 3D environment. Which is a nice change of pace. My rice is only on day 4 now and I have no idea how it develops. What I did do wrong is to plant them too far apart. But I guess this is a learning process. 😉 You can let the NPC’s do this for you but if you grow the rice yourself, you will get better results.

The only down point for me is the way the controls are set up, it’s not comfortable for me to play it for long periods of time. Animal Crossing I can play hours on end in handheld mode but this game just hurts my right hand. Mind you, I have RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in that hand so it might just be me with the controls. Fortunately, the game is compatible with a Pro-controller which I own. This might make it easier for me to play.

Dinnertime
Dinnertime

I really love the art-style and theme of this game. It’s not going to be an one-on-one rice growing sim but they do calculate in temperature, fertilizations and overall care of the field to make the experience as close as it is in real life.

The characters are based on Japanese folklore but not being used by their true names and functions. Inari Okami is the god or goddess of rice and fertility while Ta-no-Kami is a kami who is believed to observe the harvest of rice plants or to bring a good harvest. So the developers took the premise of divinity and folklore and spun it in their own vision. Tama reminds of the Komainu, lion-dogs statues you find at Shinto shrines.

Tama & Sakuna
Tama & Sakuna

I am quite pleased with this game and it gives me a break from playing Animal Crossing with a more story driven game.

Farewell to FFXIV

I never thought that it would happen but yesterday I cancelled my subscription to FFXIV.

Since the beginning of the pandemic I haven’t logged into my account but before that I wasn’t really active online either just doing events for new mounts/minions.

I’ve been playing the Final Fantasy MMO, FFXIV predecessor FFXI since 2005 and was hooked instantly. I met and made a lot of friends there, some to whom I still speak to. But if you really want to be good at the game, you need to get into Endgame for the gear.

The drama I encountered in FFXI was horrible. People hating on each other as rival Linkshells (guilds) and people just stealing items or backstabbing within the linkshell. I had enough and moved on FFXIV which looked like a more casual game to me. I even got my significant other to play it.

The storyline is amazing, I was excited for each announced expansion but the higher I got the more I came to realize is that in order to be good, you need the gear to back it up. As a healer it sometimes became difficult and the grind for better gear became a chore. Also players tend to point it out that you are lacking in gear/skills or just cussed at you. I try my best and don’t go around half-assing the dungeons but if you criticize me every step of the way it sucks the joy out of playing. My SO fell out with the game earlier as people didn’t like his playing style. It would be easier if we had two other friends to join us so we could just have plain old fun again. But alas, it is not so.

On this account I spend 1440 days which is almost 4 years that I’ve played this game but it does not bring me joy anymore. Part of me is sad, as I really loved the storyline. But the team behind FFXIV is developing FFXVI for the PS5 as a stand alone game which the story is going to rock I am sure.

I have until the 7th of January to tie up some lose ends in the game and move my collectibles to my character. I don’t want them to delete my living quarters due to inactivity and lose my in-game items.

Yoshi P and team thank you for bringing me a fun few years and creating Final Fantasy XIV. Maybe one day I will be back.

<bow>

4K battle
4K battle

Knives Out

It’s a shame I didn’t see this movie when it was out in the theaters. I can’t remember why as I am a big fan of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and the murder mystery genre. I’ll just throw it with being busy with video games ;).

This movie has quite a few big names like Christopher Plummer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Frank Oz and Don Johnson. Written, produced and directed by Rian Johnson known from Looper and Star Wars: the Last Jedi.

Mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey invites his family to his 85st birthday. The next day the housekeeper finds him dead with his throat slit. The police believes it’s suicide but a private detective is hired by an anonymous party as there is a suspicion for murder.

It’s the old Who dun it premise that made Poirot so much fun to watch as most of the people involved all had a pretty good motive to commit the murder. What I find awesome is that the detective in Knives out is called Benoit Blanc a reference to Hercule Poirot a fictional character created by Agatha Christie.

Almost all the people present on the day of his birthday had something to gain with the demise of Harlan Thrombey except his nurse and the family are in for a shock when the content of his will is revealed.

The movie was awesome and it’s such a shame I didn’t see it on the big screen. I’m hoping the remake of Murder on the Orient Express is just as good.

Doukyusei – Classmates

I’m a sucker for good love stories. It really doesn’t matter is it straight, gay or lesbian love stories. And with good love stories I do not mean Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey, that shit is trash.

Doukyusei or Classmates is such a love story focusing on the budding love of two male students. As characters they are completely the opposite with Sajo being the diligent studious type and Kusakabe who is an airhead and has a streak of a rebel in him. They have been in each others class for a while but haven’t noticed each other until the class is setting up a choir. Sajo is only mouthing the lyrics but no sound is coming out which makes Kusakabe wonder why he does this. After school he rushes back to the classroom to retrieve his items and hears Sajo practicing by himself all out of tune. Spurred on by the moment he offers to help Sajo master the song for the school recital. Over the weeks they grow closer and Kusakabe assumes that Sajo is only doing this for their teacher, jealousy growing inside. On the day of the recital Kusakabe suddenly realizes their connection is gone and tears roll over his face. He flees mid performance only to be chased by Sajo.

I read a lot of BL (Boys love) but sometimes struggle with how the relationship develops. There are some books out there that didn’t start innocently, the main character is sometimes even harassed into the relationship. Just with real relationships I don’t think it’s possible to have a happy relationship if started with forms of harassment or even abuse. But Doukyusei starts off as a teenage love and develops into a long lasting relationship going through the trials and tribulations.

Another thing that I like about this series is the art style. It’s not like most manga’s out there with more of a fluid art style. I know that there’s 6 volumes published in Japan and just 3 volumes translated to English so I hope the other 3 will be picked up soon.

BJD’s and scalpers

Sometimes I check certain Facebook groups while waiting for my lottery win Dollfie Dream Kizuna Ai to be shipped. I am not really an active participant in discussions on FB, just a lurker. I did post that I won the lottery bid just because, no real reason too but I wanted to be a bit more active. FB has grown to become a massive pain in the rear for me, lots of negative energy which is not good for a person like me. So I just lurk but I wanted to be a bit more active in the doll hobby since Covid-19 has hit us globally.

My plan this year would be visiting the Volks store in either Tokyo or Osaka and build my own custom doll but pandemic hit and travelling to Japan is not an option anymore (even if I could, I just didn’t want to travel with this shit still running free in the world). That was the main point for joining the lottery. First ever and I won, weeeeee. I had to wait a week for the results to come out and waiting with others was quite fun. We kept discussing our plans with our new girl.

Her face is what attracted me to her, don’t really care for her full set outfit.

After the results came in, some were really disappointed but if you lived in the USA, you could still join the Volks USA lottery. So Americans and Canadians got a second shot at her. Some people were already putting out threads to buy Kizuna Ai if you changed your mind while you wait for her to be shipped. It took a month between the announcement of the results and the shipping of the actual doll.

In one of the threads the discussion about scalpers came up. Scalpers are people who buy up much wanted items to resell them at a higher price. You have these fuckers in any consumer field: tickets for concerts & festivals, sports events and products. You wonder how they do it in the doll hobby as some items are limited to 1 per person. Well here is how: on a live event at one of the stores the scalpers pays others to stand in line to claim the doll. I’ve seen a video of a guy passing out a wad of cash to around 8 girls waiting in line. Infuriating. Online lotteries is the same practice, he has others set up accounts and uses them as mules for the transaction and shipping.

The main problem with this is as long as suckers keep paying the scalpers for overpriced stuff, they keep doing it. Back to the discussion because some of the members said they really need to have this girl. I mean I am lucky but I have missed out on preorders before and I’m just a stubborn bastard because over my dead body I will pay double or even triple the price. But discussions like these make me retreat again from FB-communities. You can’t change their minds if they want something at all costs and just leaves me annoyed.

Cheese – Stromae

Slowly but surely I am getting back in my flow again, I even found joy again listening to my records. I had been neglecting them for a few months now after I got seriously ill.

Looking at my Discogs account I have 110 records in my collection, which is compared to other people, a very small collection ;). But I’m still damned proud of this collection.

Today I felt listening to Stromae, a Belgian musician, rapper, singer and songwriter. He quickly rose to popularity after releasing ‘Alors on danse’, released two albums, preformed all over the world and then dissapeared from the music scene.
Later on I read he was suffering from anxiety and chose to avoid public appearances and I get this. Not long ago I had a panic attack and the aftermath gave me days of anxiousness. An experience I’d rather live without. It might be the current state of affairs that added to my anxiety for it to act out. But I’ve been reading good things about Paul (Stromae), that he is settling for some projects and even if he doesn’t come back to music we will still have what he had produced before.

Cheese – Stromae

I never got Cheese at release but a few years later. I was a CD person until I bought my first record player in 2014/2015. And I actually recieved Cheese as a birthday gift after I ran out of ideas and my father suggested this as a gift. He was actually a big Stromae fan and would tell me with much enthusiasm how he interprets his songs. Yea, so I tend to play Stromae’s music more when I am missing my father. He used to tell me to keep my chin up and not let people drag me down.

My fav songs of the album are Rail de musique, Summertime and House’llelujah. I have to agree with what critic Molloy Woodcraft said: “He combines 90s electro synths and beats with a laidback delivery to the mesmeric effect” His music is very laid back, normally I cannot listen to electronic or house music when I am in a stressed mood but Stromae just gives of the mellow vibes of house.
With House’llelujah I imagine a priest giving a sermon at a house party. Blessed be the Church of EDM lol.

BJD Bhiner, a Taobao proxy

For my birthday I decided I wanted a new Dollfie Dream girl. Initially I had planned to get one during a trip to Japan later this year, but with Covid-19 going around I doubt we will be able to travel. Dollfie Dream are ball-jointed dolls made by Volks and they are iconic for their anime/manga look. I own one already, she is a 1/3 scale girl but I really wanted a MDD which is a smaller scale girl (1/4 size). Because I want to avoid the hassle with customs, I normally try to buy through European dealers and for Volks doll that’s a bit hard. I only know of two official dealers here in Europe which are Sakura Dreams and Papettes Store.

Just received notification that my girl is in the process of being shipped, but I’ll write about her when she gets here.

In my doll collection I do not have a lot of 1/4 scale dolls (they are around 45cm and called MSD), I have either SD (60cm) or YOSD (30cm). The MSD that I have is a slim version which means that her clothes are more mature and don’t really fit the bulkier shaped MSD dolls. So I need more shoes and clothes for my girl that’s on the way. I had already bought an outfit from Volks so she won’t be nude when she gets here. But she still needs more.

Etsy is my normal go to for doll apparel but I really wanted to try ordering from somewhere different. I’ve been eyeing Taobao for a while but ordering is difficult as some sellers don’t ship abroad and everything is in Chinese. Taobao is like an online marketplace, where sellers offer their handmade products. There is also a lot of knock-off products on there so you have to be a bit careful with what you buy. Orchid Dolls‘ review on BJD Bhiner gave me a proxy service I could try out.

Bhiner is one of the many proxy services that help you make purchases from Taobao. They communicate with the sellers and collect your order in their warehouse before shipping it overseas. For their services they will charge you a fee. What differs them from the other proxies, is that they have a website that collects a lot of BJD related sales on one page but you can also add links from other Taobao sellers if you find something off-site that you want to buy through them.

The sale pages look a lot at what you find on Aliexpress and ordering almost works the same way. I think Taobao is owned by the same owner as Aliexpress. Only difference is that you can quote the items that you have in your cart, Bhiner verifies with the seller if the item is in stock and confirm this with you. It’s your own responsibility to not wait to long with your purchase or else it could be gone.

Payment is always upfront as they have to pay the sellers and the shipping costs to the warehouse. When the items are received by Bhiner, you will get sent photo proof that the items have arrived and get the second quote for shipping from China to the Netherlands. I was amused to see that from mainland China you can have your parcel shipped by train. How cool is that!

I ordered 5 items from Bhiner. 1 wig, 2 pairs of shoes, a graduation hakama for my DD girl and a Neko hat. The hat is a custom order, which means it can’t be refunded. I had more in the cart but the order was already at $99 so I called it quits. I find it easier to spend money on clothes and shoes for my dolls than on clothes on myself ^^;;.

Bhiner order
Bhiner order

So on an order of $99 the agent fee is $6.67, which is very low in my opinion. I had to pay around $14,90 in domestic shipping to the warehouse and now I wait until it arrives there. I have no idea how long it will take, one item in my order will take around 5-10 days before it ships.

I’ll write again when it arrives at my house.

Bunaken, my Animal Crossing New Horizons island

When the first trailer came out on Nintendo Direct I was excited. A new Animal Crossing was going to be released in 2020. New Leaf came out in 2012 and has been a long wait until the next installment of the series. A few new features were added to the game (terraforming and crafting) and of course a graphics update.

I had pre-ordered the exclusive Animal Crossing Switch edition and my boyfriend gave me a physical copy of the game. So when the game was released worldwide, I was able to play it straight away. Days prior to the release I was thinking about an island name and character name. I chose to stick with my Indonesian roots and named my character Melati (white jasmine, one of the national flowers of Indonesia) and the island Bunaken (an island located at the northern tip of Sulawesi).

You start your island adventure with two more residents, mine being Tammy (a bear) and Sly (an alligator). The goal of the game is exploring the island, building up the collections of bugs, fish, fossils and art of the museum, inviting more villagers and molding it to your liking. You can visit your friends online and exchange gifts,recipes and even villagers with each other.

There are several challenges in the game like the Happy Home Academy. Every Sunday your interior decoration skills are rated by the academy and you strive to achieve a higher rank. I’m currently on rank B with 79.993 points. There are furniture styles you can only buy from the store or craft your own furniture to achieve a higher rating. I think my Japanese themed room and onsen are almost done. The kitchen is much harder to complete as I am not finding the correct recipes. I’m still missing a cutting board so I can’t finish the ironworks sink to match my ironworks cabinets. 😉

ACNH
Kotetsu keeping me warm
ACNH
Indoor onsen

Another cool thing about the game is dressing up. Mable sells different outfits every day and outfits can be gifted by villagers and found by popping balloons. Every day I pick a different outfit.

ACNH
Cool
ACNH
Chic
ACNH
Casual Smart
ACNH
Sporty

I was thinking of streaming this game but there are more funnier and creative streamers out there. But I am going to post more about my island as it grows and goes through the seasons.

Living without dairy.

Since last October I’ve been ill, which resulted in my stomach being more sensitive than normal and it never restored to it’s old self again. I felt sharp pains in my stomach and it bubbled and popped like old chemical factory, leaving me very bloated. At first I thought it was because I drank a lot of carbonated drinks but when I cut back on those, I never felt the difference. When I ate a cottage cheese cake my symptoms became worse and had a massive bout of the D. Others whom had eaten the same cake didn’t have any issues so it wasn’t food poisoning.

I have a few relatives who are lactose intolerant so I decided to cut back on any dairy products and my stomach settled down again. But if you look at any product made, a lot of them contain traces of dairy. Soups, sauces, cookies, cakes, drinks, cheese etc. So I have been looking for alternatives to replace dairy. I’m not a fan of soy milk, I drank some in Japan which is completely different than the brand you find here. I just can’t consume it without using a ton of sugar, which is also bad. Besides soy production isn’t always traceable to reputable farms, same as with palm oil.

Luckily our vegan friends have made it so that more plant-bases products came on the market, which made the choice for me a bit broader. I turned to oats and coconut based products. Oatly shows their carbon print and it looks promising, Alpro and Albert Heijn has expanded their product range massively on plant-based yogurts which fixes my cereal problem. I drink a lot of chai lattes and the barista range of Oatly & Alpro froth just as much as whole milk and leave me without the bloated feeling.

It’s been a week since I switched to mostly dairy free products and I feel much better already. I might have even found a vegan mozzarella that I like. Making my own sauces and soups is a pain but better for my diet anyway. The rest of the family also benefits of the freshly made stuff.

I am really happy to see more plant-based products popping up. Alpro has a great ice cream range, Ola already made a vegan Magnum (please make a vegan Solero) and Ben & Jerry’s joined the club. I’m just a little bit envious of people living in the Japan, they have plant-based patisserie. The lactose free cakes just don’t cut it here. That’s the only thing I will need to miss for now, New York Cheesecake and Bossche bollen. But there is some vegan cheesecake recipes out there, just need to make my own.

All and all I’m a much happier person now with my stomach in balance.

Japan 2020

I’ve been to Japan in 2006, but due to circumstances I didn’t have a nice time there (you can’t get a refund over a relationship’s break up). So, it has been my dream to go back there again and do it the proper way this time.

Japan

The plan for now stands: a few days in Tokyo, travel to Osaka with the shinkansen (bullet train) and then spend the last leg of the trip in Tokyo again. From Osaka we will do day trips to Hiroshima and Kyoto.

Hiroshima is a must for me and my boyfriend as we want to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. I am a great admirer of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the man who survived both atomic bombs, and the work he has done to advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

There is going to be a lot of firsts for me this trip. First time on the shinkansen, first time to Osaka, Hiroshima and Kyoto. The last trip I spent two weeks in Tokyo, then I missed a lot of stuff because the place is huge. That’s why we’ve made a list of what we’d really want to see this time . Hopefully we won’t overload ourselves by trying to fit everything in those two weeks.

The countdown has started and I can’t wait for it to be the day that we depart for our Japanese adventure.

AliExpress – Dollfie Dream clothes 1

It is always hit and miss with AliExpress when purchasing stuff for dolls. Dolls I will never buy on Ali, as most of them are recasts.
Recasts happen when somenos purchases a doll from a sculptor and then copies it for anyone who wants to have it cheaply, selling it for a much lower price. Usually the quality is inferior and.. well.. the design is stolen. So no dolls bought on Ali for me.

For other stuff like doll clothes and shoes, you’ll sometimes find good quality on there. Lately I’ve noticed people reselling stuff from Ali on Etsy for a higher price. Heck, I even saw people resell a toilet bag bought on Ali for €2 for €9,95 on Bol.com. It’s not against the law but it is annoying, especially when you find out the quality sucks afterwards. So with doll clothes I am a bit cautious when buying for the first time from a new seller I discovered on Ali. Losing €10 on a skirt for a doll that looks terrible isn’t a complete waste of money.

It is quite hard to find fitting clothes for my Smart Doll and Dollfie Dream as they have anime features, extremely long legs, tiny waists and sometimes huge breasts. I try to keep the chest size small or medium, as I really don’t like the big ones, unless I can cover it up with clothing. My normal SD clothing doesn’t really fit my anime style dolls as they are too wide and sometimes too short. So slowly I started building up my Smart Doll and DD clothing collection. First try out was with WAW Dollhouse and from them I bought an inexpensive skirt that costed me €10,01 in total including shipping.

Skirt
Skirt WAW Dollhouse

I am surprised by the quality of this skirt. The fabric feel sturdy to the touch and the finish in brown stitching is done neatly. It has two functional pockets and the final finish was done with a overlock machine. For this type of quality I would have gladly paid more for this skirt. For the record, I have spent over $100 on a single outfit for dolls.

Overlock finish
Overlock finish
Suits my DD nicely
Suits my DD nicely

The waist is a bit wide, but I cover it over with t-shirts or sweaters. The store had two versions: the white with blue stripes that I bought and a darker denim. The darker one goes on my next to-buy-list along with a few other items now that I tested the seller. All and all I am very happy with my purchase and will definitely shop there again.

Jojo Rabbit

The movie was released in 2019 in other parts of the world but we had to wait until 2020 for a Dutch release. Luckily for me not a lot of spoilers on Twitter for this movie compared to The Rise of the Skywalker, looking at you fanboys. I was hooked when I saw the trailer, being a fan of Taika Waititi’s work since the release of ‘What We do In the Shadows’. The best way to treat Hitler’s legacy is to put it to shits with a dose of satire.

The movie follows Jojo, a boy who joins the Hitler Jugend in order to become a man and who often has conversations with his imaginary friend: Hitler. Mind you, he is 10 years old so they way Hitler interacts with him is portrayed kind of childish.
His initiation with the Hitler Jugend is during a camp led by Captain Klenzendorf, a washed up officer who was removed from the front because he has only one good eye left. The older members of the Hitler Jugend see that Jojo is a bit cowardish during the training exercises and force him to kill a rabbit with his bare hands. When Jojo fails to do this he is nicknamed Jojo Rabbit, the cowardly boy. In a last act of desperation to show everyone he is brave, Jojo steals a hand grenade of the captain during a training exersice and throws it with all his might. Sadly the grenade bounces off a tree and lands right next to him, sending Jojo to the hospital.

After rehabilitation Jojo is left in the care with Captain Klenzendorf to do menial jobs to support the Reich by collecting metal, posting draft letters and distributing posters to keep morale up for the citizens. His mother doesn’t want Jojo to be inspired by the nazi’s and keeps her hopes up for the end of the war, with the Germans losing. One day Jojo comes home before his mother and hears a noise upstairs. Hidden behind the walls he finds a Jewish girl, who has been allowed to life there by his mother. Torn between his loyality to the Reich and his love for his mother, Jojo is confronted with his image of the world and the choices he has to make.

While the movie is portrayed as a satire, the harsh reality of the ruthlessness of the nazi’s was also shown, with the execution of traitors of the Party. Jojo keeps thinking he is a nazi, while actually he is just a boy whose head been filled with propaganda.

After my boyfriend pointed it out, I have to admit he is right about this, all the funny bits of the movie were all in the trailer which was a bit of a shame. But a real shout out to Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell’s characters. Scarlett Jo showed the real shine I have been missing since ‘Lost in Translation’. She really portrayed the loving mother and kept her son in the dark of the dangerous work she did.
Sam Rockwell as Captain Klezendorff was a very surprising roll, he already knew the war was ending in a loss and struggling with his own feelings as a gay person. Just keeping up appearances and playing an important role saving Jojo’s life.