Film Review: suzume no tojimari (2022)

Suzume, a 16-year-old high school student, meets Souta, a man in his twenties who introduces himself as a “closer” and is on a mission to close the doors through which a large worm-like creature is attempting to emerge and cause disasters throughout Japan. Suzume is compelled to take on Souta’s task and travel throughout Japan to close these doors after a magical keystone vanishes and transforms into a cat, cursing Souta and transforming him into Suzume’s childhood chair.

I’m on the fence about this one because I’m a big fan of Makoto Shinkai, and his last two major films, Your Name and Weathering With You, were mega blockbusters, so my expectations were pretty high. Despite the fact that it is in 2D, I knew I had to see it in IMAX. I watched it over the weekend and did not regret spending 690 PHP because Shinkai’s animation is simply breathtaking.

photo courtesy of impawards

Suzume, the titular lead, is a brave character. Her sense of responsibility is admirable, but at the end of the day, she’s still a 16-year-old girl raised by her aunt after her mother died when she was very young. She’s a typical adolescent who rebels, trying to find her place in the sun, and she’s still that kid who misses her mother. If there’s one word that best describes her, it’s resilience.

Souta’s character on the other hand lacks backstory. We were only informed that he comes from a family that ‘closes’ these doors or gates, and he decided to be a teacher just to have a paying job, and that’s all. There was a lingering question about Souta’s family being “closers” at the back of my mind. It was like, “Are you guys from a secret society, or was it bestowed by some sort of magical being since they’ve been “Closers” for generations?” Another question I have that is central to the story is, “Where do these worms come from? We were informed about “Ever After” or “After Life” or an alternate universe, but why do these things emerge in the first place?

The narrative, in my opinion, was not as strong as in the director’s previous works because, despite covering such heavy topics and events—the film was apparently inspired by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster, which I saw on TV while it was happening, which was terrifying and heartbreaking—it feels very niche.

What I meant earlier when I said I was on the fence was that I didn’t connect much with the characters in the film. Yes, they’re likable enough, but unlike Mitsuha and Taki in “Your Name” and Hodaka and Hina in “Weathering With You,” I didn’t really root for them.

I find myself trying to just enjoy other aspects of the film. I enjoyed the bits about Suzume spending time with the amazing strangers she met while she was traveling with Souta as a chair. The conclusion was definitely the strongest part of the film, as Suzume gets to confront her loss, her guilt towards her aunt, and find her place in the sun. Another enjoyable aspect of it is its music. Its soundtrack is heavenly; I had to stay until the film credits ended.

The film was nominated for Animation of the Year at this year’s Japan Academy Film Prize, which goes to show how much Shinkai’s work is revered in his home country. I’m probably in the minority in not fully embracing the film, but if you enjoy fantastic visuals and awesome music, this is a must-see!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Director: Makoto Shinkai
Nanoka Hara as Suzume Iwato (岩戸 鈴芽, Iwato Suzume)[4]
Akari Miura as child Suzume[5]
Hokuto Matsumura as Sōta Munakata (宗像 草太, Munakata Sōta)[6]
Eri Fukatsu as Tamaki Iwato (岩戸 環, Iwato Tamaki)[7]
Shota Sometani as Minoru Okabe (岡部 稔, Okabe Minoru)[7]
Sairi Ito as Rumi Ninomiya (二ノ宮 ルミ, Ninomiya Rumi)[7]
Kotone Hanase as Chika Amabe (海部 千果, Amabe Chika)[7]
Kana Hanazawa as Tsubame Iwato (岩戸 椿芽, Iwato Tsubame)[7]
Matsumoto Hakuō II as Hitsujirō Munakata (宗像 羊朗, Munakata Hitsujirō)[7]
Ryūnosuke Kamiki as Tomoya Serizawa (芹澤 朋也, Serizawa Tomoya)[8]
Ann Yamane as Daijin (ダイジン)[9]
Aimi as Miki (ミキ)[10]

Post-Election Blues… Que sera, sera…

It’s been an incredibly trying four months and the national elections in my country have come and gone, and there’s still this bitterness in my heart that I’ve yet to process wholly, but I’m getting there one step at a time. I’ve written a few posts in my drafts which I’m unable to post because I didn’t feel like communicating, didn’t feel like I could share more these past months, but I figured why the heck not? Let’s keep that ball rolling, and as I’ve said, let’s take it one step at a time.

Back in 2016, I read an article in Vogue about the five ways to recover from the post-election blues, and I didn’t think that it would somehow be relevant to me six years later. To quote it, the article said to stay connected, “Spending time with friends and like-minded people is key. “Seek people who can understand and validate your experience,” says Keenan-Miller. For some, a small or large dose of being alone is restorative, but cutting yourself off from your current life ultimately won’t help. We all generally get a mood boost through support and empathy from others.” I’m trying to do this. I think I’d get there soon enough. I hope.

With the pandemic still hovering, I’ve decided to focus on work and plan for future travels. I was pretty successful at doing these two, which kept my mind off the terrible news bombarding us each and every day. This coming December, I decided to go back to Europe for a month to get a taste of travel after these two grueling years of COVID lockdown. I am excited and I cannot wait to just escape the monotony of what I’m doing, even just for a bit.

“I used to think that if none of your family or friends knew you were dead, it was like not really being dead. People can invent the best and the worst for you.” – Celine, Before Sunrise. Loc: Me at Zollamtssteg Bridge, Vienna

Now, with that bit of update out of the way, I’m looking forward to sharing some stuff in my next few posts. I’ve not been reading a lot, but I was able to get hold of some books I’ve postponed reading from years past. I also watched The Sandman over the weekend. I’ve not watched any series since last year, but this one really piqued my interest and I enjoyed it. I’ve also collated all the figures I bought over the last two years, and there are a lot. I didn’t realize that I spent quite a lot during this pandemic. The start of the BER months is in two days, and that means early Christmas planning! exciting!! Ooh! Not really. But we’ll see.


New Year’s Thoughts and Quotes

It’s been two months since I’ve posted anything, so for my first post in 2022, I want to share this picture of a colorful sea urchin shell I took a couple of years back, which feels like a totally different time than these last two years. In a blink of an eye, things could change, and this quote from Henry David Thoreau really resonated with me —

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

Even if people around me say that we should just learn to live with COVID, it still doesn’t feel right. Maybe because I’ve been cooped up at home for two years, and it’s been getting to me just now. I mean, I consider myself a homebody, and “peopling” really isn’t my favorite thing, so I thought I’d be okay, but I also realized that it could get tiring. So here I am in 2022, feeling hopeful that this nightmare will soon be over.

There. I wanted to say more, but I am tired. Maybe tomorrow will be a different day. Oh, siya sige. Till next time!

Book Review: Glimmer by Marjorie B Kellogg

Glimmer by Marjorie B Kellogg is a pseudo-dystopian novel set in New York City in 2110, where climate change has altered the city’s landscape, mostly flooded and practically destroyed. Those who could escape from it did, and those left behind bonded and created some sort of faction – ala Water World – called dens. 

The titular character Glimmer is simply a name that she gave herself and who seemed to have lost her memory—narrating the grim situation of the city and the world entire, and her life in Unca Joe den. I do love Glimmer as a character. She’s very likable, smart, and very determined. She is a young adult that makes excellent choices.

The world-building created by the author here is a scenario that will make you realize that we humans are the most vulnerable on this planet, and we need to get our shit together before it’s too late. Some of the things mentioned here are happening now in some parts of the world. The most recent example is when the Covid19 pandemic started, and people drove in numbers and hoarded supplies. It’s selfishness that corrupted people. In Glimmer, it’s worse, so just imagine that.

It took me a while to finish Glimmer. The first half was sluggish and not as engaging, but the premise is interesting enough for me to push through with it. After the very slow beginning, the pacing started to pick up, and the story just bulldozed into something scary, exciting, and thought-provoking. There are a lot of great scenes here, particularly when the group got together to move into a new home – Uhm, within the city as well. It was heart-racing and heartwarming altogether. 

I do love the relevance of this book on what’s happening in the world now. I love the research that went into it because they are all realistic, and some are even happening now. You just have to persevere with its slow pacing initially, but I promised that it delivers a good and pretty solid story overall. The ending was a bit abrupt, but it really won’t matter by the time you finish it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Published October 19th 2021 by Daw Books

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Daw Books, via Netgalley for an impartial and honest review.

About the Author
Writer and scenic designer Marjorie Bradley Kellogg lives in Franklin, NY, where she is the editor of The New Franklin Register. She is the author of Glimmer, A Rumor of Angels, Harmony, The Dragon Quartet, and Lear’s Daughters. She has designed scenery for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and for resident theatres across the country and in Europe, receiving many industry awards for her work. She taught at Princeton and Columbia and was Associate Professor of Theater at Colgate University from 1995 to 2017.

Spencer, Starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, opens November 17 in Philippine theaters!

Through their social media, Cinema Bravo announced that Spencer starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, would open in Philippines theaters on November 17, 2021.

Storyline of Spencer: 

The marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles has long since grown cold. Though rumors of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. There’s eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game. But this year, things will be profoundly different. SPENCER is an imagining of what might have happened during those few fateful days.

Since its premiere at the Venice International Film Festival last September, the film has received positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for Stewart’s performance. Stewart is now touted to be the early frontrunner of next year’s Oscar for Best Actress. Spencer is a film by Pablo Larrain, who directed the 2016 Academy Awards nominated film Jackie. 

I am excited to watch it! I’ve been a big fan of Stewart for years now, and I am proud of what she’s accomplished over the years working within the indie film industry after her Twilight years. I wanted the film to succeed here, and I hope the cinemas get very strict regarding the number of audience per screening because I still get paranoid with crowds.

ICYMI: After closure for almost two years, select cinemas within the National Capital Region (NCR) and provincial areas are opening. NCR and most of the Philippines are under Alert Level 2 until November 30, which means an increased capacity for businesses and activities, including the opening of theaters! 

Book Review: A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (ARC)

I had three days off last week, and I finally got the time to read this debut by Freya Marske. Billed as Red White & Royal Blue meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, A Marvellous Light features an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies. It was absolutely delightful!

Robin Blyth has just been named the new civil service liaison to a hidden magical society. He is assigned to work in a government office that liaises between magic users and the Prime Minister of Edwardian England. His new job suddenly turned dangerous when he was targeted for something involving his predecessor and had the misfortune to be under a curse. And it’s up to his official counterpart, Edwin Courcey, to help reverse the curse. 

The book touches on the social division between classes, race, sexuality, and magic-user over non-magic user (you get the drift). As a fantasy romance, You cannot ask for more. The author sure knows how to pack everything in this story! The whole premise of the book was just fantastic. It has impressive world-building, the entire magical system was engaging, and of course, the chemistry between Robin and Edwin – ugh. It was so much fun to read. I loved the adorable scenes between them, including the sexy times, which are totally off the charts! 

I guess my only qualm about this book is its misogynistic undertone. I am not sure if it’s just me or I’m reading too much into it, but there’s just some commentary that I’d rather ignore since I didn’t think that I would enjoy it as much as I did. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Kindle Edition, 377 pages
Published November 2nd 2021 by Tordotcom

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tordotcom, via Netgalley for an impartial and honest review.

About The Author
Freya Marske lives in Australia, where she is yet to be killed by any form of wildlife. She writes stories full of magic, blood, and as much kissing as she can get away with, and she co-hosts the Hugo Award nominated podcast Be the Serpent. Her hobbies include figure skating and discovering new art galleries, and she is on a quest to try all the gin in the world. Her debut novel, the queer historical fantasy A MARVELLOUS LIGHT, is forthcoming from Tor.Com Publishing in 2021.

Book Review: Oddball by Sarah Andersen (ARC)

The topics in Oddball include social awkwardness, anxiety, the pandemic, pets, reading, being introverted, and more. Reading it reminds me so much of my younger self, when I easily get embarrassed to go out there, was unassertive, just wanting to be alone and read, and tends to overthink things. I’d like to think that I’ve already overcome some of those characteristics— at least to a degree.

This collection of scribbles is a laugh-out-loud read with scenario after scenario that would make you think that maybe, you’re taking your life too seriously. It would make you think of the things you’re not aware of doing, and perhaps that includes your pets, who are probably out for blood every time you forget their mealtime. Lol. Speaking of pets— there’s a ton of cat jokes here that are silly and just adorable! If you’re a cat person, in particular, you’d get a kick out of the charming cat jokes here.

Although I’ve seen half of what I’ve read here in memes online, I still find them funny because of the author’s way of writing, as it is very engaging and relatable. If you’re looking for some light reading that would make you laugh-out-loud, and get you out of your funk, then this could be the perfect read for you.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Kindle Edition
Expected publication: December 7, 2021 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing, via Netgalley for an impartial and honest review

About the Author
Hello! I’m Sarah and I’m a cartoonist and illustrator. I graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014 and currently live in Brooklyn. My comics are semi-autobiographical and follow the adventures of myself, my friends, and my beloved pets.

Book Review: A Spell of Rowans by Byrd Nash (ARC)

The Rowan siblings were born with powers – both a gift and a curse. Phillipa could charm anyone, Victoria could see through someone else’s deepest secrets and emotions, and Liam could read memories by touching an object. Their mother, Rachel, was abusive, and even after her death, she’s still terrorizing their waking hours.

I enjoyed reading this book so much that I had to read it twice. It’s fascinating and affecting because it has the elements of mystery, magic, and, most importantly, family drama. At first, I was under the impression that it would be a fantasy/magic kind of book, but it turns out to be more than that. The ‘magic’ element isn’t even that prominent in the book. It tackles more on how these siblings cope and grew together after enduring years of abuse from their mother.

I love the characterization of each character. I particularly adore the interaction of the siblings and the little romance in there. (And speaking of romance, you have got to watch out for Reed—I think we all need a person like Reed in our lives.) I also enjoyed the fact that it kept me guessing until the end about their mother’s death. I wished it did have some time skip or a future view of these characters because you’d absolutely root for them. I know I did.

I highly recommend this book and would explore other works from the author. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Kindle Edition
Expected publication: October 26th 2021 by Rook and Castle Press

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Rook and Castle Press, via Netgalley for an impartial and honest review

About the Author
Spinning tales of subtle magic with unexpected twists, Byrd writes the book you need, not the one you expected.

As one reviewer wrote: “When I get a Byrd story, I know I’m in good hands.”

Whether it is a Doppelgänger who was once a medieval knight now working in college administration, or an updated Red Riding Hood escaping a post-WWI wolf pack, her characters all feel real.

That Celtic goddess at the pet store? She’s someone you know. A medieval queen fleeing an abusive marriage? You experience her pain and triumph.

With a B.A. in journalism, she’s worked in the writing field for over thirty-five years. Discover more about her, sign up to be a beta reader, or grab a free book at her website

Book Review: Gone But Not Forgotten (TIN Book 1) by Charlie Cochet

Dexter and Sloane Daley have worked as TIN Operatives for three years now. Their next big assignment is to retrieve a virus that mutates a human’s gene to that of a Therian. And it may just be their most critical and dangerous mission to date.

I’m a big fan of the THIRDS series, and I’m glad that this first book from its spin-off series, TIN, has finally come out! Gone But Not Forgotten isn’t THIRDS. It’s very different from that series, even though the main protagonists are the same. This first book is more serious, way darker, and lacks the humor we’ve gotten used to, mainly from Dex’s character. I love that Dex and Sloane are very much in love, and their bond is stronger than ever. We’ve seen Dex’s evolution from the THIRDS series, and the manifestation of that is even more prominent here. I thought it was exciting to imagine what Dex’s final evolution/form would be.

I’ve some concerns about this book, though. There was a trigger warning at the beginning for kidnapping, sexual abuse, and trafficking, which are very much on-page. That surprised me. I mean, am I reading a Charlie Cochet novel? The sex scene with other Therians around just doesn’t feel right for me. It was too graphic and uncomfortable to read. Another thing is the whole undercover stuff. I mean, I shouldn’t be wondering where this and that guy came from, given the nature of what they do, but it’s unnerving for characters to just pop up out of nowhere.

Considering the issues I stated above, it’s still a good read, but I am not sure If I would be that keen to follow this series, the way I was so crazy about the THIRDS series. I understand that this is a different series, but this is still part of the THIRDS universe, so hopefully, there’s a way to incorporate that fun-ness of that series here.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Published September 16th 2021 by Charlie Cochet

About The Author
Charlie Cochet is the international bestselling author of the THIRDS series. Born in Cuba and raised in the US, Charlie enjoys the best of both worlds, from her daily Cuban latte to her passion for classic rock.

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found devouring a book, releasing her creativity through art, or binge watching a new TV series. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

I’m With Leni Robredo! #LabanLeni2022 #LetLeniLead2022

Vice President Leni Robredo filed her certificate of candidacy for president in the May 2022 elections. Robredo is running as an independent candidate, with incumbent Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as her Vice President.

Robredo with daughters Aika and Tricia.

Ngayong may malinaw na lider na ang oposisyon, nawa’y gawin po natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para masiguro ang tagumpay ng ating pambato sa pagkapangulo. Naniniwala po ako na may pag-asa pang makabangon ang Pilipinas at ito po ay sa pamamagitan ng paghalal ng mga lider na katulad ng ating butihing Bise-presidente Leni Robredo.


Kung kayo po ay maaari ng bumoto sa #Halalan2022 sa Mayo at kung hindi pa kayo nakakapagparehistro, extended po ang voter registration hanggang October 30, 2021.

Nananawagan po ako sa ating mga kababayan, na pag-aralan ng mabuti ang inyong gagawing pagpaili para sa magiging susunod ng pangulo ng ating bansa dahil hindi lamang po ang inyong kinabukasan ang nakataya dito, kung hindi na rin ang kinabukasan ng inyong mga anak, at ka apu-apuhan.

Lalaban po tayo. Dasal, tiwala at ang inyo pong boto ang kailangan natin para mapagtagumpayan ito.