2016 – Year in Review

It’s that time where you reflect on the memorable moments of the year and in 2016, it has been an incredible year. An exchange experience is more than just your average holiday. You learn so many things every day, without even trying. It’s a life-changer for me and I 100% recommend people to go on exchange. Time to look back at the year and my personal growth.

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Yuri!!! on Ice – Review


I haven’t been able to watch a lot of anime during the Fall of 2016. Mainly because I’ve been super busy with all the university-related stuffs that I need to do. I actually have no idea how I first got into Yuri!!! on Ice, but wow, it was such a great anime. It’s so popular that people are cosplaying the characters, buying merchandises, or even trying to replicate the choreography. TLDR: A short, but amazing ride and I highly recommend this anime.

Story & Characters

A young man named Yuri Katsuki had a big dream. He idolised a famous Russian skater named Victor Nikiforov and hopes to skate on the same ice as him. Initially, that dream sunk until Yuri was able to impress Victor by imitating his free skate routine perfectly. Victor was so impressed that he decided to take a year off to coach Yuri in the upcoming Grand Prix Finals.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this is an ice-skating anime and the structure of the Grand Prix skating competition is pretty much real. I won’t go too much detail in to how the competition works because the anime explains it really well.

While the story is important, I have a feeling that most people will pay more close attention to the characters, which is by far the anime’s biggest strength. Sure it has some bromance going on, but believe me, these characters are lovable and seeing the development throughout the series is amazing. Yuri is a guy who has the determination, but struggles in dealing with pressure during critical moments. The key to making Yuri’s development is Victor, who gained international popularity through his talent and won numerous championships. Victor’s philosophy in skating and key to success is to surprise the audience and the skaters themselves. As he simply puts it, “Do the opposite of what people expect, that is the only way you will surpass them!” Sure, Victor seems like a tough coach, but he hopes that Yuri will be a success. The duo between Yuri and Victor has some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen, which began as a professional relationship, to friend, to even intimacy.

On top of this duo, other characters, such as Yuri Plisetsky, JJ, Phichit and Christopher, are likeable and have very interesting personalities. Seriously, this is a very character driven anime, despite being under the assumption that is a sports anime.

Animation & Design

What I really like about Yuri!!! on Ice is how all the characters are animated, particularly when they are on the ice rink. The various camera angles capture the skaters movement, and each skater has their own style, which also spells out their personality during the performance. Comedy is well integrated through hilarious facial expressions. It’s an anime that blends comedy, competition and emotions very well and that is very surprising.


If the anime is not impressive enough, Yuri!!! on Ice nails the soundtrack. The OP song “History Maker” by Dean Fujioka is very catchy and captures the theme of the anime about making memories on the ice rink. The soundtrack during each performance knows how to impress the audience with the characters movement that supplements their style very well. I had the song “Yuri on Ice” on repeat because it was a beautiful piano piece and fits Yuri’s character.


The anime may not be suitable for everybody’s taste/style, but I still recommend this to anybody. I don’t know much about ice skating, but after watching this anime, it got me genuinely interested about the sports. Yuri!!! on Ice take ice skating and character relationships to a new level that is so phenomenal to see it completely exceeded my initial impressions. As the OP song goes, “We were born to make history”, and the anime actually did!





君の名は (Your Name.) Review

Recently, I got a chance that most of my friends back in Sydney are quite jealous of; Watch 君の名は (Your Name) which was out in Japanese cinemas on August 26. I gotta say, given that it’s a 新海誠(Shinkai Makoto) film, it’s obviously that it would be a masterpiece, but it’s more than just that. No wonder it has been getting high praise! It’s easily the most prettiest feature length film I’ve ever seen, so much so that I bought the short novel version. 


Story is set about a month after a comet has fallen in a long time in Japan. Mitsuha, a high school girl in the countryside, wants to live in the city because of the boring lifestyle in the countryside. Then, there is Taki, a high school student in Tokyo who also works part time as a waiter in an Italian restaurant. One day, Mitsuha dreams of herself being a young man. Meanwhile, Taki also has a dream where he is a high school girl in the countryside. 

Story was fairly simple to understand, and easy to guess where it will go while watching the film. Not wanting to spoil the plot, because it’s damn good! 


My jaws dropped so many times throughout the film, because of how amazing the presentation was, as expected from a Shinkai film. Seriously, the artwork was enough to evoke tears. Vibrant and dynamic crowds make the world alive and the animation was outstanding, on par with Shinkai’s other work such as 言の葉の庭 (Garden of Words) and 秒速5センチメートル (5 Centimeters Per Second). Absolutely beautiful!

Music and Sound Design

Immediately slammed by how immersive the atmosphere was thanks to the excellent use of sounds. The music integrates very well into the movie. Some songs are full, soulful rock songs by the RADWIMPS. The soundtrack was just beautiful to listen to. Has a range of emotions, from happy to sad to fear to excitement. One of the best soundtracks that I listen to while riding my bike around Kofu. In fact, the album itself is so popular that in several of the local CD stores I’ve been to, it’s sold out. 

Not only is there a beauty and technical marvel, but there is also a huge range of emotions jam packed in this film. It’s Shinkai’s funniest film by a REALLY HUGE MARGIN, as well as being the saddest, happiest, dramatic, suspenseful, philoshophical…. AH too many words to describe this film!!!

The film was initially out on July 3 at the Anime Expo in Los Angeles, California, and based on what I’ve seen in forums, Shinkai Makoto was there to say to the audience, “I finished making this film 4 days ago.” I honestly don’t believe that it was rushed, but given how quick it was released, I genuinely believe that there was nothing left Shinkai could do to improve this movie in any way possible.

君の名は is an absolute masterpiece. Lives up to the expectations and possibly exceeding them! Actually kinda feel bad that my friends in Sydney can’t watch it yet, but it’ll be worth the wait. I love this film, and I’m looking forward to improving my Japanese as I will be reading the short novel version of the film.


I climbed Mount Fuji! 

28th August 2016. That day marks my fifth month in Japan, and what a day to celebrate with a milestone; I climbed to the top of Mount Fuji! 

富士山(ふじさん) is Japan’s highest mountain (3776 metres) and has been one of the main things many tourist come to Japan for, especially during summer season when it’s also climbing season. According to a Japanese proverb,「富士山に一度も登らぬ馬鹿、二度登る馬鹿」An idiot who has not climbed Mount Fuji. Also, an idiot who has climbed Mount Fuji twice. I know some of my senpais who regretted not climbing Mount Fuji, but I doubt that I will have another chance to do it again, let alone have the motivation for it! Once was definitely enough! 

My walking stick!

The climb up Fuji took around 15 hours. On Sunday, I took two buses with 4 friends, from Kofu to Kawaguchiko to the fifth station of Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is separated into 10 stations and its most common for people to climb from the 5th. We started the climb at around 1pm and the first half was surprisingly easy. 

Along the way up, you’ll notice some huts which sells food and drink. I highly recommend bringing your own because they are pretty expensive. Like buying a PET bottle for ¥400… 

I thought that I was prepared but later on I realised its not enough. I wore 4 layers of shirt, brought at 2L bottle of water and a couple of onigiris. I didn’t want to bring my DSLR because things can go wrong will climbing.

Climbing Mount Fuji was physical and mentally challenging. The rocky terrains become higher and steeper, so much that I had to keep an eye on my feet in case I slipped.

Weather wise? Oh god it was a hell of an adventure. Weather on Mount Fuji is known to be unpredictable and on the day that I climbed, it was crazy. We took shelter at a hut that is between the 7th and 8th station and slept from 6pm to 12:30am, which was when we decided to continue the climb. As I mentioned, first half of the climb was easy because it was very sunny and the path was not steep. However, the second half was so intense that you’d be a fool if you climb in this kind of weather; strong gale winds and heavy rain along with bare visibility of the terrain. But that makes the climb more interesting and ultimately rewarding! I did however got drenched from head to toe, I tripped at least 4 times and I didn’t even bring a flashlight of all things. Thankfully my good friend was behind me with the flashlight so I can see what’s in front of me. I was literally freezing along the way up, but in the end I reached the top!

Weather looked terrible ..

A souviner shop at the top of Mount Fuji

Ahh that view!!

The descent took three hours but it was still equally as hard as climbing up. To actually go down, me and my friends had to walk, or more accurately, slide down a path that has rocks and pebbles. It was very slippery and unstable because there was strong winds and was raining heavily too. The path zig zags from top to bottom and the only flat piece of land you can find is at each turn. 

The map!
Before coming to Japan, I never thought of climbing Mount Fuji. Mainly because I felt that I’m not a good mountain climber at the time. But these two arduous days goes to show that I was able to have a solid mental fortitude, not giving up despite the horrendous weather conditions and lack of preparations. I definitely felt growth in myself as a person and that’s what I wanted to gain from my time in Japan. If you are coming to Japan, especially during the climbing season, climb Mount Fuji! It will test your limits, but trust me, it’s well worth the effort! 

Tokyo DisneySea

Summer holiday continues, so my friends and I decided that it was a good opportunity to spend the time in Tokyo DisneySea, and it was so fun that we spend the entire day, from opening to closing of the place! Seriously, people wears Disney-related clothes when they visit DisneySea (and/or DisneyLand), whether it is a cosplay of Cinderella or identical Disney shirts. Aside from the ridiculously long queues for the attractions, I would straight out say that you should go to DisneySea (and/or DisneyLand) if you are planning to visit Japan.

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