I know that everyone’s hearing Demon Slayer this and Demon Slayer that, but I’m a big fan of the series! My favorite character is Tanjiro because I could never be as forgiving as him…I mean, I hate on a fly buzzing too loudly on the window screen.
Because of the pandemic, I started watching Demon Slayer and then collecting the manga series. What makes it so awesome? One, the characters are cool and sad and oh-so-sad. Each character has a background story and present story that’ll tug at heartstrings even though it’s set in the Taisho Era. Once again, I love me some Tanjiro. Second, the plot moves forward pretty fast yet clearly enough so that folks aren’t like, “What’s going on again?” I hate when anime and manga have to keep explaining something that just happened two seconds before as if we missed it. If fans missed anything, it’s not the fans’ fault (in the background, “Yeah, Jujutsu Kaisen!”). Lastly, yes, the animation is good and the manga is drawn well enough–not quite as clunky as Attack on Titan or Jujutsu Kaisen, but it’s not as clean as My Hero Academia. If anything, the animation is very beautiful and takes notes from Japanese art history in colors and motifs.
I’ll read all the manga volumes and the doujinshi (fan-made comics) and get the earrings and the multitudes of stickers and… you get my point. I’m that obsessed fan girl that I thought I would be eventually.
Keeping weight off is the same as praying. I pray that the cheesecake I ate yesterday doesn’t go straight to my thighs. I pray that this 10-minute workout will burn off 300 calories. I pray that my metabolism is fast enough to eat a day’s worth of food in my sleep.
All of it is prayer–then I take my prayers seriously and put actions behind each (silent) statement.
At the beginning of the year in “How I Lost over 40 Pounds in Japan“, I outlined how I actively went from size 14 to size 6 by using or ditching some Japanese techniques. However direct losing the weight in Japan was in 2014 through 2015, keeping it off in the States since 2016 is a whole other beast.
After I moved back to the States, reality gave me a punch to the face: I needed a job, my cat had bald patches from stress, and in a household of meat-eaters, I was the lone pescatarian, or fish eater. In the beginning, it was fun. The first thing I ate was a burrito from Del Taco. (Japan has some Mexican food restaurants, but they’re all pricey for only decent food.) I continued to eat anything that didn’t have meat, and in 2 weeks, I gained 10 pounds. That added to the stress. I had to lose weight again while looking for a job, protecting my cat from 3 big dogs, and learning to live with my in-laws (I love them, but it’s always stressful living in a new habitat).
To deal with the stress, I set up a routine again. In the mornings, I exercised, monitored my portions with vegetarian meals, and drank more water. The most important part of the routine was eating around the same time every day, something that the Japanese have on point.
Gym Memberships (pre-COVID)
I did get a gym membership, something I by-passed when I lived in Japan, and stuck to it for about a month before I landed a job at the Japanese Consulate in LA. I ended up canceling this when I realized I stayed in the stretching room for 45 minutes before half-assedly doing machine work. I ditched the gym membership and returned to what I knew: personalizing my home workouts. I woke up before everyone else and did a 10- to 20-minute routine in the garage, switching between cardio and weight training. After work and dinner, I’d do another 10- to 20-minute workout. Interval training has helped a bit with keeping the belly fat at bay–and there’s a recent study to support that shorter yet intense workouts can reduce belly fat better than longer workouts (“The Secret to Losing Belly Fat“). On the weekends, I divided my time between walks and yoga routines.
If you’re wondering about taking up a gym membership versus working out at home, think about what you want to do in your workout. For me, I’m there to get fit but not build bulk, so rows of weights and machines aren’t important to me. If it’s hard to get to the gym, consider starting at home and building a foundation (i.e. pilates, yoga, beginner workouts) before putting your hard-earned money into a membership. Remember: $10 a month equals $120 a year.
The one thing I remember Japanese people loved more than alcohol was a successful diet. It didn’t matter if the diet didn’t turn into a lifestyle–a good diet was a good diet. I had learned the hard way to ditch the yo-yo diets, dig deep psychologically, and find the mental and emotional triggers for my poor lifestyle.
I returned to plastic boxes and Tupperware of homemade food. The cafeteria at my new job helped keep me in line–I couldn’t see myself paying $2.95 for a slice of ordinary pizza. To keep my waistline and wallet happy, I packed food ahead of time and prepped meals when I needed to, most consisting of rolled eggs, rice, and veggies.
At work, it was an uphill battle towards the scale line to maintain my weight. With all the office celebrations and cheap sweets in bulk, saying, “One slice won’t hurt” didn’t hurt so much. But if that same delicious cake kept calling my name for 3 days (cake is good for 3 days, right?), it became increasingly obvious that I had to control myself even if others floated by with beautiful plates of cakes in their hands.
Being that my job is extremely busy, I could control myself after 9AM. Afterwards, I was swamped with so much work, my coffee would go cold.
I admit my stress is a little higher than when I lived in Japan. Even without language barriers to hurdle over or a sick husband to take care of, I still face daily stresses that didn’t plaque me when I was an expat.
Unlike my employment as a language assistant, I’m a secretary again with no real purpose than to make others’ lives easier. As a language assistant, I always felt I was doing something worthy–and I do feel that the place I work I am helping others accomplish worthy goals for students–but I don’t feel as accomplished as I did in Japan. Also, everyone around me seems to have clearer ideas of what they want to do with their lives. I’m still deciding, but I get the feeling that whatever I choose, it won’t make me any money.
There’s also that lovely bonus of racism in the U.S. It’s not to say that Japan–or any other country–doesn’t share in racism and colorism, but it’s never a good thing when the survivors of racism have poorer health conditions mostly due to higher stress levels. If you’ve never had to worry about walking around without thinking about your skin color being a factor in being attacked or harassed, you won’t understand this daily fear and anxiety. Even though a new president may seem like a cure-all, it’ll take years before racism disappears. At the end of the day, I can’t stop being Black, so I’ll be facing racism and racist acts until I die.
These stresses, now that I’ve had the chance to stand back and see what my American life looks like, contribute to my waistline and overall well being. Since coming back to the States, I’ve gone from 119 pounds to 136 pounds, a 17-pound gain that seems to cling to my body. In spite of my weight gain, I’m fitter now than when I lived in Japan. I have to be fitter to balance the stress I face on a daily basis.
Adorned by Chi Manga Review – Finally, a Nigerian Manga!
Yes, this is my first video review, and it’s for a Nigerian manga called Adorned by Chi.
I love coming across cool manga with black main characters, and this one, Adorned by Chi, is set in Nigeria. When shy Adaeze and her friends are attacked by apocalyptic monsters called Mmanwu at their college, they soon learn that they have god-like powers. They must use their new powers to keep the Mmanwu at bay while living their regular school lives.
Yes, it’s cutesy and Japanese-ish, but what it has is a lot of Nigerian spunk. The art style and story-telling are like manga. The characters are toned by computer, the panels are different on each page, and the personalities are definitely part of manga tropes. If there was a black version of Sailor Moon, this would be it–minus the age gap with Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon.
If you’d like to get a copy of Adorned by Chi, use the discount code, JADESCHI, for 10% off your order!
VIZ Media reaches the next stage in the development of its VIZ Originals imprint. Aspiring artists and writers are invited to apply for portfolio reviews taking place at some of North America’s biggest pop culture shows. The VIZ Originals imprint will develop innovative, English-language creator-owned graphic novel content for a global market, and is committed […]
The Black Nerds Expo on Thursday, February 28 from 10:00AM to 2:00PM at MiraCosta College (1 Barnard Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056) is a space for attendees to explore and celebrate black comics, books, art, video games, and pop culture. This event is open to everyone! Register at http://blacknerdsexpo.eventbrite.com for free!
Here is what the expo will offer:
-Meet people in the art, video game, and comic book industries
-Make new, local friends who like black pop culture
-Participate in opportunity drawings for active attendees
-Take Instagram-worthy photos at the photo booth
-Day-of point card to collect comics-related stickers and prizes
-Learn about upcoming projects and releases information in anime, manga, video games, media, and pop culture
How much is it to attend the Black Nerds Expo?
It’s free! Just make sure to either pre-register or register on-site for entry.
Why is there a need for a black nerds event?
Could you name at least three black superheroes outside of Black Panther, Storm from the X-men, or Luke Cage? Could you name at least three black authors without searching on Google? Could you name at least one black artist outside of comics? Events such as the Black Nerds Expo is to make aware the existence of black pop culture that isn’t usually shown or celebrated in mainstream media.
If I’m a vendor, artist, or would like to table for the Black Nerds Expo, how can I make that happen?
It’s free! We don’t want tabling or exhibiting fees to be a barrier for exhibiting. Please contact Jd Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible since space is limited.
If I can’t be there personally but I or my business would like to contribute, how do I do that?
Send any promotional materials (i.e. flyers, postcards, business cards, posters) to the following address by Thursday, February 14, 2019 to give them time to arrive:
ATTN: Jd Banks, Student Equity (MC: #10C)
1 Barnard Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
Is it possible to sponsor something for this event?
Sure! We would like to do an opportunity drawing for attendees, so any swag items such as T-shirts, hats, buttons, wrist bands, DVDs, posters, cups, or figurines relating to black pop culture would be appreciated. In return, the Black Nerds Expo will cross-promote your brand on social media and other marketing materials. Please email Jd Banks at email@example.com for information.
Are you providing any stipends or paying any fees for vendors, artists, or representatives to participate in the Black Nerds Expo?
No. Participants will only be provided a table, refreshments, and day-of logistical support.
What sort of things would be great to bring as a vendor, artist, or representative to the Black Nerds Expo?
If you are a comics vendor, comics and graphic novels concentrating on black superheroes such as Black Panther, Storm, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Green Lantern, March, Miles Morales Spider-Man, Ironheart, Batwing, Cyborg, Mister Terrific, Vixen, Nubia, Rocket, XS, Tattooed Man, Afro Samurai, and more would be great. Find a list of black superheroes at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_black_superheroes. Books from Toni Morrison, Ben Okri, Karyn Parsons, John Lewis, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Obama and other black authors would also be great. Artwork can be fan-created artwork of current black superheroes and/or original artwork with black and African-American attendees in mind.
Chibi Maruko-Chan Helped Me Learn Japanese (RIP Momoko Sakura)
Chibi Maruko-chan helped me learn Japanese. Even at 25 years old, I woke up in my small apartment at 7:00AM and turned on my inherited, boxy analog TV just to catch a few lines of Chibi Maruko-chan. My coordinator at the time laughed–“What a childish show!”–yet he understood how hard my journey would be to Japanese fluency. I suppose the “any way that floats your boat” was his approach to comprehending my methods.
Chibi Maruko-chan helped me feel accomplished despite the language barrier I felt in my daily life. I could understand easy phrases and playful situations when I hardly knew what my co-workers were saying. Instead of feeling discouraged in learning this difficult language, Chibi Maruko-chan lifted me, gave me room to say aloud, “Kore wa oishii,” and “Nandemo ii!”
I’m not exactly sure why, but I often receive e-mails asking for advice on how to write anime/manga reviews “correctly”. Not that I’m complaining on being asked. It’s just that I don’t consider myself a reviewer unlike many anibloggers. I’m more of an entertainer, unintentional commedienne, occasional translator, and—my favourite—fandom promoter. A mouthful, I know, so […]
From September 25th to October 1st, authors, readers, publishers, and constitutional right advocates will celebrate books that have been banned for whatever reasons. This year, Banned Books Week is looking at diversity. Although diversity isn’t a new word, some may imagine diversity as a person of color. Diversity, however, includes people who are of different appearance, ethnicity, religion, gender and gender identity, age, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, military status, and economic status.
Awww, but it was just starting to get good! In 2001, Weekly Shounen Jump debuted a new manga that rocketed to the top of everyone’s must-read lists: Bleach. I can still recall the almost nervous excitement I felt upon hearing the news that the author of Zombie Powder, Kubo Noriaki AKA Kubo Tite, was set…
*This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Post Series. Enjoy! I love reading romance manga. It doesn’t have to be in the shoujo genre. As long as there is good romance in the story, I’m in. For many shoujo manga fans, sizzling romance and hot characters are big turn-ons but that doesn’t mean that we […]
I went to San Diego Comic Con this year after a 5-year hiatus (thanks, Japan) to find that the Comic Con I one loved has been hijacked by security–RFID security tags! You swipe them at the entrance and you swipe them when you exit.
At least the energy of good ol’ geeks and nerds and everyone in between was still there. It just came with a lot of people. I couldn’t create a mental escape path without running into a billion folks and encountering some B.O. I thought I had gotten used to from years of convention hopping.
As much as Comic Con has a great freebie table, the star freebies were for attendees who made it to the registration entrance. After swiping past the security panels, attendees were given large plastic backpacks with choices between Pokemon, Gotham, Supergirl, and Comic Con themes. I chose Gotham, not because I was wearing my Batman shirt from Japan and not because I liked-loathed the first episode of Gotham, but because it was black and went with anything. Judge me if you like. I’m a black lover.
While I was in the Sails Pavilion, I roamed the autographs section where actors from different TV shows, movies, and animated series met and greeted fans. I saw an Aliens poster and stopped to find Ricco Ross, or Private Ricco Frost, hanging out at his table with cool scenes from Aliens. I talked to him some time, got his autograph, and went back down to the main floor to finish looking for David Mack, the artist and writer behind Kabuki and several Daredevil comics. I found Mr. Mack after a beautiful woman in white took me to a table with 2 handsome brothers promoting their comic, Okemus, and their company, RAE Comics. From the past 7 Comic Cons I’ve attended, this was the first one where I saw many black comic creators as well as black companies with good promotion.
On Sunday and the last day of Comic Con, I bought a few shirts and immediately donned a pink JigglyPuff shirt from the Mighty Fine brand since all the Pikachu shirts were gone (darn you, Pokemon Go!). It wasn’t as crowded as Saturday, mainly because most celebrities attended Friday’s and Saturday’s panels and promotional events. Sunday has always been the best day for Comic Con goers to buy their most-wanted merchandise at low prices. “Help us get rid of this extra inventory!” is the call of the last convention day. And if you’re a good haggler, this was the best time to haggle. I found manga priced down from $12 to $8 and Superman and Batman shirts discounted to $5. David Mack gave me a deal on two of his Kabuki volumes ($25 for two hardcovers signed), and I bought a hardback volume of The Goon. Promoters and creators were more visible between the aisles as they handed out the last of their free comics, wristbands, book samples, and stickers.
I returned to the Sails Pavilion to find Ricco Ross again. We ended up chatting for about an hour about random stuff, some fans stopping in between our conversation, and he gave me some advice on life. I’m not into celebrities and movie stars, but I think Ricco Ross is one stand-up, down-to-earth guy. I’ll be looking for more of his roles on the silver screen.
By 2:00 and after some impulsive buys, I left Comic Con to find some Pokemon outside the convention center. In the past Comic Cons, I had always felt like I had accomplished a big feat even when I had little money and couldn’t buy and go wherever I wanted. I survived the San Diego Comic Con! I would think as I rode the trolley to my car. Now that I have the time and money, I just don’t have the energy to be excited for hours on end. Thankfully, meeting fans and creators, exchanging cards with small press and independent publishers, and conversing with a talented actor made up for my low energy. Next year, I’ll be sure to prepare my heart–and maybe find a sturdier bag–so I can keep up with all that is the San Diego Comic Con.
Other great companies and businesses at Comic Con I visited (and usually bought buttons):
Between the boxes filled with clothes and Japanese souvenirs, a cat weaves through the narrow spaces, finally pressing their little claws into the cardboard. No matter how much the owner shoos their cat away, an ominous cloud floats above them. The owner and Mr/s. Kitty are leaving Japan.
The ominous cloud always follows people returning to their home countries with a (new) pet. While the know-how is available, all of the pieces don’t always apply to those going from Japan to the United States. I had to bring my cat, Ninja, from Okinawa to the United States in August 2015. Even as a JET Program participant, I had little help in booking a flight where the airlines allowed pets and going through the process of taking a cat on a plane.
Find out if your cat is allowed to be transported. If your cat is a certain breed, they may not be allowed for travel. Hairless breeds and cats with flat snouts are usually not approved. Check with the airline to see which breeds are allowed for travel. Also, cats under the age of 90 days old or over the weight of 32 kg (71 pounds) won’t be permitted to travel. Airlines that allow pets on flights since August 2015 are EVA Air, United Airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and Singapore Airlines.
Find an airline that allows pets. The only way to do this is to call the airlines customer service line. Some airlines such as Cathy Pacific Airlines don’t allow pets, even in their cargo space. When looking for an airline that allows pets, always ask if the pet can be in the cabin (usually under the seat with you) or if they must be in the cargo (in an airline-approved kennel where checked bags go). It’s better to get on a flight where the pet is allowed in the cabin. If you’re a JET Program participant, tell your prefectural advisor well in advance that you will be bringing a cat with you so they can book your flight with a pet-permitted airline. Try to get a flight that only has only 1 stop so you don’t have to do a pet importation permit for each country.
Get an airline-approved kennel or carrier. Before booking a ticket for your pet, you must have the kennel or carrier’s weight, dimensions, and brand. Sherpa, Petmate, and Bergan make airline-approved carriers. I used a PetMate VariKennel, which are sold at Cainz, Meikuman, and any big pet store in Japan.
Get your cat’s vaccination and microchip. At least 30 days before the flight, make sure your cat has all their shots and vaccinations updated and in English. If they haven’t been microchipped, get that as well. It’s required for all pets entering the United States. If your cat has a vaccinations record that has not expired, this is efficient for travel.
Book your cat’s ticket. You can only do this once you get your airline tickets, or in the least, the reservation number. Call the airlines and tell them to add a pet ticket. The airline agent will ask you for your cat’s name, breed, weight, length, and age along with your carrier’s weight, dimensions (sizes), and brand. For JET Program participants, you will pay at the ticketing counter on the day of travel.
Schedule a checkup with your veterinarian at least 7 days before travel. You must get a Health Certificate with a Letter of Acclimation saying that your cat is healthy enough to fly. It’s usually good for only 10 days.
Submit application for Export Quarantine Certificate for Animals Under the Rabies Prevention Law. You must do this at least 7 days before travel. On the day of travel, you will bring your cat to the Quarantine Office with your travel permit, your flight receipt or boarding pass, and vaccination records. Once all the paperwork is finished, your cat will be examined by the on-location veterinarian. From there, you will get an Export Quarantine Certificate for Animals Under the Rabies Prevention Law that will be used for check-in points throughout the flight.
Schedule an appointment with the Quarantine Office in the airport. You must do this ahead of time. On the day of travel, you will bring your cat to the Quarantine Office with your travel permit, your flight receipt or boarding pass, and vaccination records. Once all the paperwork is finished, your cat will be examined by the on-location veterinarian. From there, you will get an Export Quarantine Certificate for Animals Under the Rabies Prevention Law that will be used for check-in points throughout the flight.
If you are stopping in other countries, check into their pet importation procedures as well as specifics for vaccinations. For Taiwan, if the cat is coming from Japan, you must file an application for a Permit for Animal Transit by submitting an Application Form for Transition with your cat’s vaccination certificates. This can be done by snail mail, email, or fax. I emailed the Hsinchu Branch Office (Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, Phone: 886-3-3982431) at firstname.lastname@example.org and received an application form for the permit and the procedure for traveling with my cat. It takes about 2 or 3 weeks to complete this part, depending on when the branch office responds to your initial email.
Get an engraved tag with you and your cat’s information. It’s for identification as is the microchip. Make sure to include your cat’s name, your name, your phone number, and your future address, even if you’re unsure of your more permanent location back home.
On the day of travel, make sure your cat is well hydrated before taking them to the airport. Take your cat to the Quarantine Office with your paperwork. The Quarantine Office will require you to take your cat out of the carrier for a brief check. After you receive your travel permit and your flight is within the hour, you can go straight to the ticketing counter. In the preliminary screenings before you get to the ticketing counter, you must hold your cat while the airline staff X-rays the carrier. Once your pet is back in the carrier and you get to the ticketing counter, the airline staff will help you finish any ticketing procedures for your pet, and you’ll be asked to sign a liability release form. During travel, you are not allowed to bring your cat’s food with you unless you arrange it with the airline staff at the ticketing counter.
If you are stopping in Taiwan, a staff member will show you a photograph of your pet or bring your pet to you before boarding the next flight. They may ask for your pet importation forms, especially if you have any special instructions (i.e. giving food, water) for the staff.
Landing in Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is probably the easiest part of bringing a cat to the U.S. After landing and going through immigration, there is a section in the baggage claim area for animals. When I went to pick up my cat, there was no desk or staff to claim my pet. She was in a cart with the ropes from cargo around her carrier sitting by herself in the middle of the floor. The pet importation paperwork, which I tucked under my arm as I went through the last screenings, wasn’t checked at all. Anyone could take my cat from LAX. I don’t know if anything has changed since August 2015, but that’s something to be wary about. If you do not see your cat in their carrier somewhere in the animal claim area, report it immediately.
Resources for importing a cat to the United States:
If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t had gone to Japan and became the person who I am today. At the ripe age of 13, I became interested in anime and manga, and in a year, I made going to Japan my dream. Before I had my chance to go to Japan, my mom bought me secondhand manga from yard sales and told me about events relating to Japan. When my school hosted exchange students from different countries, my mom allowed Yuki, a Japanese student from Hokkaido, to stay with us.
By the time I was in college, my mom and I already knew I wanted to go to Japan, but coming from a single-income household, it seemed so far away. One day, she burst into my room to put a newspaper clipping in my hand for a city program in Japan. It paid for a majority of the 2-week program. With my mother’s help, I was accepted into the program where I met some life-long friends and allies in Japan. If she hadn’t found that newspaper clipping and helped me with the application, I wouldn’t had gone to Japan (for cheap) the first time.
I learned of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program during that time, and I made it my Plan A after college to join the program. Why not get someone else to pay me to go and teach English in Japan for at least one year? The first program helped me get into the JET Program as it showed I was interested in Japan without any study abroad or Japanese classes on my transcript. After I received my interview date, my mom and aunt accompanied me to LA for the interview, the whole time saying, “Don’t worry. You’ll get in.” And they were right. I got offered a position in the program. The only thing that had me doubting the program was the up-front costs for lodging and bills. My mother told me, “You have a job waiting for you in Japan. Take it.” We both knew I couldn’t skip out on my dream of living, working, and later, learning Japanese just because of money. It didn’t stop me before, and from my mom’s own perspective, my dream outweighed poverty.
Without my mother, I don’t think I would’ve felt comfortable or strong enough to go to Japan. Sometimes I forget that my mom is human, not My Parental Unit or Super Mom. Over the years, I’ve seen my mother as someone who is funny, charismatic, and strong. She sought happiness for herself as well as her children, and she did the best she could as a single parent. The little things she provided to my brothers and I, whether it was homemade muffins or company to the store, she helped shape our futures.
By pushing me into programs to Japan amid the billion things she’s done for me, my mother has forever changed my future for the better.