Mandarake Merch Madness: Part 1 – Untold Questions

An Untold Questions blog about Mandarake Merch Madness: Part One.

Okay, what’s this then? It’s a merch post!

“Merch”, “Post”, is this some kind of weird ritual? Yes.

No, but seriously what’s going on. Don’t be difficult, ‘merch’ means ‘merchandise’ and post is what this is.

—kay, but what’s a “Mandarake”? Well it’s got nothing to with Harry Potter if you’re wondering.

I wasn’t but do go on… It’s a second-hand anime goods chain in Japan, it’s like a treasure trove of anime related goodies for otakus like me! Also, second-hand for Japan is basically like new, 90% of the things they sell have never been taken out of the box!

And I presume this means you bought some goods from them? A whole BOX of ‘em!

You could fit a person in this box!

That’s a big box! Ahem…

Always well protected, the more delicate items are individually bubble wrapped too.

Right-o, so get into it then! Full disclosure, a lot of these pictures will be of the items out of their boxes because, well, I was too impatient to take pictures of them in their respective box. I don’t know if this breaks some rules of unboxing/merch posts but give me a break, okay? I’m new here after all…

Fine, fine. Just get on with it! Okay, so prepare for a lot of photos, also I’m not really sure what order to display the merch in so I’ll leave the figurines ’til the end [edit: figurines in seperate post], and everything else before.

GET ON WITH IT! Right, so first off I wanted to get a new wallet. I’ve already got a re:zero one but it’s due for a replacement soon.

From: Is the Order a Rabbit?? Still in packaging because i’ll leave it in til I’m ready to change over from the old wallet.

What’s up next? Next is a couple of CD soundtracks! I have most of my music digitally but it’s sometimes nice to get the physical thing, plus the Amagi Brilliant Park one comes with a bonus DVD. Unfortunatley, Mandarake’s website isn’t the best about giving detailed information on the content of some of their products, and some things are just poorly translated, so as it turns out the DVD is of just one, 4-minute music video. But whatever it was cheap enough anyway!

Yuru Yuri Season 1 OST and Amagi Brilliant Park Character Song Collection + Bonus DVD.

4 minute long DVD, that’s got to be some kind of record for shortest DVD. Haha I doubt it, but yeah… Anyway while we’re on the subject of Amagi Brilliant Park. I got a stylus and a poster. I was a bit disappointed the poster was just a paper one as the site said ‘image board’ but again it comes down to translation issues and not very good pictures on their website. It’s certainly not a perfect system, but it kind of adds to the excitement of opening the items!

Amagi Brilliant Park, Isuzu Sento Stylus.
Amagi Brilliant Park full cast poster.

Buyer beware I suppose! It’s fine! Next up is a COSPA pillowcase for New Game! I’ve already got a bunch of COSPA brand pillow cases from the actual COSPA store in Akihabara when I went last year and I was so impressed with the quality when I got them home I bought another one! They don’t have a wide range of shows unfortunately, but they are double-sided with different images on each side!

New Game! Pillowcase, still in packaging until I buy a new pillow insert for it but you can see the two sides of the design on the paper beneath. Also it was a lot cheaper than the RRP, as some Mandarake items usually are.

When you said pillowcase I thought it was going to be something lewd… thankfully it’s only partially so with those bikinis… Did someone say lewd?! This next purchase was just because of how much it amused me, it’s an oppai drink bottle holder. It’s also from a series I’ve never watched before which I don’t normally do, but it was too good to pass up. Unfortunately, and I feel like I’m saying that a lot, but the hole to the bottle in the top is too small for most if not all water bottles, it might be able to fit a small coke can or bottle or beer, but I don’t drink either! Oh well, might have to just repurpose it into a pen holder or something!

Too late to say NSFW?

Yeah… why am I not surprised you bought something like that… My browsing habits on Mandarake generally just result in me putting in the titles of shows I or the irl waifu likes and seeing what comes up. A show we both like, but not love is Persona 4: The Animation, ordinarily I wouldn’t bother with merch for a show I just ‘like’ and not ‘love’, but when I showed her this she had to have it.

Teddy plush thing from Persona 4. And yes it’s a working zip and you can put things in it! Not much though it is very small.

Well that’s cute and wholesome! And now back to our regularly scheduled smut! Well, not the item itself, but rather the show (or visual novel, it could be from either). I was searching ‘We Without Wings’ and this item came up, it was vague in the description, it translated something to ‘towel’ and I assumed beach towel, but it’s not, it’s more like a velour (or microfibre?) throw blanket. And it’s very big, it takes up most of the single bed in my office.

Is Naru best girl? I don’t even know, that show’s so confusing. Regardless I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and size especially considering the relatively low price.

Mmm-hmm. Moving on… I broke one of my rules twice this shop, that rule being never buy things for show’s you don’t watch/haven’t watched yet. But I think this one’s forgivable, because apparently it’s a really good show? Also, who can say no to a cheap, brand new t-shirt!

Angel Beats t-shirt. Really good quality print, really poor quality photo. It’s pristine white irl but the photo makes it look worn.

I wouldn’t have thought Japanese sizes would fit you… WOW. I mean it is a little snug around the belly, but it’s fine. I’ll probably only wear it at home, and only once I’ve watched the show too. Anyway, next it’s time for Interviews With Monster Girls merch! I got 3 phone charms and a really cute phone case. One I thing I quickly learned while in Japan is that while they have a LOT of anime phone cases, only about 5% of them come in the Large size for iPhone plus sized devices. So of course while browsing the site I was thrilled to find one for Interviews With Monster Girls that fits my phone!

Bad lighting strikes again!

Well this post has gotten longer than I thought it would be, should we maybe take a break? You don’t get breaks, but yes I see what you mean, it probably is a bit much for one post. Alright, take five and we’ll continue with figurines in part two!

We Without Wings – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for We Without Wings – Under The Innocent Sky.

What’s the show? We Without Wings – Under The Innocent Sky (2011).

Quite the mouthful. Tee-hee.

Wow, not wasting any time with dragging down the tone of this review, are we? Trust me, this show was going to do that enough on its own, I’m just getting you prepared for what’s to come. Heh, come.

Oh lord, we’re back in ecchi town today, aren’t we? Next stop ‘Ecchi City’, population: 69.

Obligatory ‘Nice’ reply. Now that that’s done with what’s the show about? Oh boy, where do I begin? This is a hard one to explain without going to ‘Spoilersville.’

Just try, yeah? Well fine, it’s an anime that’s based on an erotic visual novel, and to put it bluntly it makes no god damn sense. Like I’ve watched David Lynch films that make more sense than this show.

You watch David Lynch films? I thought you only watch anime. There’s a lot about me you don’t know, I am an enigma.

You’re a pervert, but I digress. Try and sum it up as best you can. Right so there’s three male protagonists who all live separate lives, Takashi Haneda a high-school student who also occasionally visits a parallel fantasy world to battle the forces of evil of Gredaguard under the guise of a hero called ‘Lord Hawk Cyan-Blue’. Then there’s Shusuke Chitose, an author and part time waiter at a bar filled with beautiful maid waitresses. And then there’s Hayato Narita, an antisocial “fixer” who takes up odd jobs around Yanagihara city in Tokyo.

That seemed more like a character run down than a plot synopsis, not that I’m complaining because I was going to ask about the characters anyway, is it really that difficult to come up with a synopsis for the show? Listen, I could just wiki it, but I’m trying to convey just how beguiling this show is, and I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way.

Oh? It’s based on an erotic visual novel, which I know you don’t know what that is, so basically it’s an erotic romance game where the goal is to talk your way into the digital panties of one of many of the female characters. They’re very popular in Japan but almost have no presence over here due to the fact that they contain absurd amounts of plot and dialogue. The original ‘We Without Wings’ visual novel for the PC and PS3 is over 50 hours long, I can’t imagine how hard it was to condense it down to 13, half hour episodes.

50 hours?! But wouldn’t your hand cramp up long before that? First of all, gross, I don’t want to think of you masturbating. Secondly, you don’t play it all in one sitting, and besides its more like a long build up to an eventual pay off, it’s not all sex, it’s a lot of talking mostly with fan service thrown in. Except, well I can’t speak for the visual novel, but the ‘talking’ which amounts to the plot is some of the most buck wild nonsense I’ve ever seen.

Elaborate, but vaguely. Why do I have to be vague, no one’s going to watch this show, it’s a show that’s been out for 7 years that nobody ever talks about?

Just do it… vaguely! Ugh, fine, so there’s gang warfare, a lost bicycle, egocentric authors, a radio host announcer trapped in oblivion who breaks the fourth wall, people getting shot, a preteen American tourist who flirts with much older men, high-school drama, games of Twister, massive ejaculations caused by a fast talking witch, goths, crepes and upskirts (oh so many upskirts).

I’m sorry, did you just say ‘massive ejaculations’?! I was surprised as you were; and after all despite all I’ve said, this isn’t a hentai. That one scene aside there’s no actual sex in the anime. A bit weird for something based on an eroge but I suppose there’s limits to what you can do on Japanese TV – even if I’m pretty sure there’s more than a few scenes that would have been heavily censored, thank the anime gods for blu-ray!

You wanted to see that? I’m ever the advocate for no censorship in my anime!

As funny as these images are without context, I think this one is funnier with context. They’re playing twister. I’m sure you can guess what this ‘move’ implies.

Right. Pervert, how could I forget? Hey, you asked!

So we’ve gotten this far in the review and yet I still haven’t gotten a sense of whether you like this show or not. Do you? I do! Well, I like just how bat shit crazy it can be at times, it’s never not entertaining. I’m not going to pretend like this is a good show, because it’s messy as heck and pretty insulting and offensive at times, but it’s still a spectacle. It’s ambitious but it never takes itself too seriously, it’s funny but it’s not a comedy, it’s dramatic but it’s not a drama, it’s like arthouse cinema mixed with trashy daytime soaps mixed with the kind of anime fan fiction you’d never expect to be made, only it did and somehow it got an official English dub too!

You sound kind of in awe of its existence? That’s a very good way to put it.

So this is a recommendation? I guess so! It’s a guilty pleasure, even moreso than the likes of Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid. That was a guilty pleasure because it was like “what if fan service but that’s the plot?” This one is more like, “what if erotic visual novel was an anime but also a parody of erotic visual novels but not because it’s an anime now?” I don’t know if any of it works but all I know is it’s the only anime I’ve watched 3 times through, and for only 2 of those times I was drunk.

Final score? Add alcohol and you’ll probably have a better time, this show is confusing and seedy and angst-riddled and dumb. It has a lot to say but it doesn’t say it particularly well, the messy plot does begin to make some sense by the end but it’s clear there’s a lot missing from this adaptation. However, I just enjoy it so damn much that I can’t stay too mad at all its flaws. Approach with care; 71 out of 100.