“Are you willing to die for me, then?” — on processing, expressing, and forgiving (inspired by anime “Given”)

Think about your first love.

Not your first crush. Not the first time someone caught your eye. Think about your first love. Have you been there yet? Now tell me, did it hurt?

Please be aware that this post gets very honest, and it isn’t about only romance.

The first time you’re in a relationship, everything seems so… big. Every fight. Every date. Every dance. Every moment. We don’t always know how to handle ourselves with the grace we wish in retrospect we’d had, because we… we can be really stupid. Most of the time, we’re young.

We aren’t unintelligent. We aren’t incapable. We aren’t BAD. But I know that people can make really, really poor decisions in the heat of the moment. I know this because I, too, have been stupid.

The anime “Given” hits the nail on the head with its depiction of teenagers in that we we’re all young once. Good people, especially young people, do stupid things in the heat of the moment. Sometimes, those stupid things motivate others to do disastrous things, even when no one is at fault. And everyone has to live with that. People learn, and we grow.

But wait, Shoujo, you might say. That’s not what “Given” is about. “Given” is a shounen-ai band anime about the power of music as a means of expression and developing relationships while moving through life’s obstacles…

Well, honestly, you’re right. And that in and of itself would have been enough. But it’s also about a lot more than that.

Mafuyu’s first love, Yuki, sets the plot of the show in motion, well before he’s ever shown on screen. Today, despite everything else the show offers, I want to talk about the big reveal in episode nine, and what it means to me. I want to talk about “A Winter Story.” I want to talk about what I heard in, “Are you willing to die for me, then?”

[Spoilers from this point]

[Trigger warnings, suicide and self-harm]

Yuki drank himself to death. We don’t know if suicidal idealization had been a privately ongoing problem for him, if he intentionally drank himself to death in the aftermath of Mafuyu’s angry words, or if he was just so lost to his emotions that he didn’t realize how much he’d had before he was gone. All we know is that Yuki is dead by his own hand. And everyone else was left to pick up the pieces.

My counselor will be the first to tell you that you are not responsible for someone else’s actions. Even if they do something negative in response to something you said or did, that reaction isn’t your fault. You can only control the things YOU say and do. But that doesn’t make it any easier for Mafuyu, whose careless words thrown out during a heated argument proved to be so foreshadowing. He’s in such nameless pain that he cannot express for most of the series, wondering what in the world he’s supposed to do with these feelings that he can’t put into words. There’s love, heartache, anger, guilt, sorrow, pain, grief. How does he go about processing what he’s feeling having walked in on his ex-boyfriend–his first love–dead in his room after an their argument in which Mafuyu said, “Are you willing to die for me, then?”

Mafuyu isn’t bad. I cannot stress enough that he is not BAD. I also want to stress that Yuki wasn’t bad, either. Mafuyu did what many of us do in the heat of the moment as adults, but especially as teenagers: lash out by saying something harmful or stupid. Whatever his motivation, he wasn’t in the head space to make good decisions. He was hurting. He was angry. And the same can be said for Yuki in that he was hurting, he was probably angry, and he made bad decisions. Whether his death was on purpose or accidental, he was responsible for his own actions that day.

But they’re just teenagers. They’re just people. They’re not BAD. They just don’t always know how to handle things. And it hurts me to see this sort of true-to-life tragedy born of high-emotion and inexperience on screen, so real and raw. I cried. I listened to Mafuyu’s song lyrics over and over again because they’re so expressive and honest. They’re real. These characters were so young and, caught in an overwhelming moment that life hasn’t yet given them the experience to handle, people can say terrible things. In the aftermath of an emotional breakup, young people are liable to do dangerous, self-hurtful things, or to make bad choices, but they’re not bad people.

It rang so authentically to me.

It’s noted in internal monologue that Kashima wants forgiveness, and while for what he seeks forgiveness could be a blog post all its own, I think that forgiveness is a major theme of the anime overall. Forgiveness and blame: how to hold on while letting go, how to process the ending of a relationship coinciding with the ending of a life, how to absolve others when you’re not sure if they’ve really done anything that requires it, and, ultimately, learning how to extend grace to yourself. Slowly.

Extending grace to myself is something I’ve always struggled with, and I didn’t realize how much it impacted me until I started seeing a counselor last year. While I’ve not been in a situation like Mafuyu, I’ve struggled to forgive myself for lots of things over the years, both inside of and outside of romantic relationships, as an adult and as a child. Like Mafuyu, I’ve run from expressing very difficult things because I’ve been so afraid to look at them and didn’t have the words to say what I felt. I’ve lashed out and hurt others with my words. I’ve felt so incredibly angry about poor decisions others have made and left me in the aftermath. I’ve been in relationships where neither party had the maturity or life-experience to make good decisions. I’ve made poor choices at the cost of myself and others, including self-harm. I’ve felt so, so guilty about those things. In my past, like so many of us, there’s love, heartache, anger, guilt, sorrow, pain, grief, just like Mafuyu feels in “Given.” I don’t always know how to forgive myself for them and move on. Hearing the regretful melodies in Mafuyu’s song, seeing his inability to put into words what he feels, what he regrets…

It makes my stomach hurt.

I’ve forgiven so many well-meaning and hurtful things other people have done on the merits of their own inexperience, because I understand that to be young or inexperienced is to folly. At one time, it may have been a struggle, but I’ve by now had the experiences necessary to put those things in perspective. I’ve gotten beyond that portion of Mafuyu’s tragedy. Being angry at others, begrudging them: it only hurts you, in the end. But Mafuyu and I are still working on forgiving ourselves, unable to move on for a variety of reasons; those exact reasons may be different, and mine are not peppered with feelings of lingering attachment, but at their core, scattered amidst the rubble and dust of past trauma lies a mutually distinct lacking of self-grace. I’m not holding onto love like Mafuyu–and, honestly, the pain of his lost love is in no small part a reason for my own tears even now–but I do understand to some extent the emotions he’s expressing. The longing and pain and anger and grief.

We sometimes see in media a reflection of our own life and experiences, and it’s those reflections that stick with us the longest. Perhaps I’ve related too deeply with Mafuyu’s inability to move on from his past and strong desire to express what he feels in relation to it, but I don’t think so. Our reasons are different, but the emotions relating to our struggles feel similar in ways that resonate within me and make me feel.

It can be so, so hard to let go.

Just like the shade of snow/ That hasn’t completely melted/ I continue on with these feelings inside me/ Hey, with what words/Should I close the door on this love?/ Your everything has lost its tomorrow/ And now is wandering around eternally/ Along with me/ Who was unable to say goodbye or move on/ Just like a spell that still won’t break/ Or some kind of curse/ I’m still holding on to some heavy baggage/ Hey, what kind of tomorrow/ Am I supposed to look for in this town?/ Ah…/ The cold tears that fall/ Freeze under the sky/ They pretend to be kind/ And around the time, they fall down my face/ Two people who were always together are torn apart/ That’s all there is to this story/ Even if your everything loses its shape one day/ You’ll always be here within me/ As I try to move forward again/ Even though I couldn’t say goodbye/ You’ll always be here with me

Given, Fuyunohanashi (English Translation)

Having OCD during a pandemic is really fun

I just…

I wrote a post, a post with actual blog-specific topical content. I do run a life AND ANIME blog, after all. I thought it was good, too. Then WordPress lost my draft, and I lost all motivation to rewrite what I had almost entirely finished.

It’s 11 PM—not that late—but I’m tired. I feel tired a lot during the day. We’re all living with this fear and uncertainty right now, and it’s enough to justify this lethargy, I think. We’re not suppose to be too hard on ourselves right now, right?

It feels like I’m always trying to figure out the next way to teach remotely. I’ve become a children’s YouTuber of sorts, and that’s not the job I signed up for. I’m grateful for the platform, but it’s not the best or easiest way to teach kids all the social and emotional things they’re learning in early childhood. On top of that, I’m trying to keep my own education straight with the recent conversion to exclusively online courses. ADHD doesn’t like schedule changes. I’m more likely to forget things that way.

Staying at home and working isn’t all bad. In fact, I made a list of positives one day as I wondered outside in my back yard. There are a lot of good things, like cuddling my husband at will and being with my cat sons 24/7. And I still HAVE a job, at least for now, but we always knew the future of our school was in doubt, even before COVID.

Husband’s small business is suffering, of course. But he’s not getting one of those big airline bail-outs to keep us afloat. Not that we want one, necessarily; sometimes I just wonder why people are expected to be able to save so much for emergencies but big cooperations don’t have to.

But I’m not economically savvy. I’m just tired.

Anyway, Husband doesn’t have any employees, so we’re not worried about making payroll, and we’ve been fortunate to save for rainy days. We’re very lucky. Very blessed in this way. We’ll be okay. But losing our insurance in the midst of a pandemic if the school doesn’t renew our teaching contracts…

I honestly can’t think about it now. I’m treading water with my anxiety. I’m not going to drown right now. Too much to do, and too much of an adult to be.

America is… sure something.

That’s not to say that adults don’t occasionally give in to anxiety, but rather that I can’t let myself do that right now and still be productive. I am making a conscious decision to keep calm and adult on even as my infection-based OCD is screaming at me from all sides like “DON’T TOUCH THAT THING! DID YOU CLEAN THAT? DID YOU WAIT 3 DAYS BEFORE BRINGING THOSE GROCERIES IN THE HOUSE???”

I’m so worried for my family. For my friends. I’m worried for all the people I hear about on the news. I mourn for Italy. I mourn for Spain. I mourn for everyone who suffers.

Am I really an adult?

My nights have been restless and filled with strange dreams. I can’t explain them. It’s so bizarre. That probably contributes to my unease. I don’t know.

I miss my family. We’re very close, but I can’t be with them now, of course. I haven’t seen my dad in weeks, and he works an essential job, so he’s at risk, and that means my mom is at risk, and that means my grandparents are at risk because she frequently cares for them. My brother is at risk because he is diabetic and a former smoker with preexisting health problems. My other brother isn’t in a specific risk category, thank goodness.

Husband and I are over here just trying to stay away from everyone and flatten the curve.

So, obviously, if your anxious, you’re not alone. If you’re tired, I’m there with you. If you’re scared, well, I mean, we should probably start a club. But you’re not alone. Even if you’re physically alone while all held up inside your house, you’re not ALONE. And we’re going to keep fighting and keep being together and this will end eventually. It will.

FanFiction Friday 3/13/20 —

Featured Fandom: Mo Dao Zu Shi (MDZS), AKA “The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” & “The Untamed (CQL)”

Title – I love you (Lan style)

Author – thejademare

Stats – 1 Chapter, Completed 2/29/20

Author’s Synopsis – “Since there are not enough whump fics on this here delightful site, I made one. Because sometimes ya just gotta write what ya wanna see. (ok so maybe I tried to get teacup_of_doom to write it first but I suck at being sneaky, so. tadaaa)”

Shoujo’s CommentsThat plot synopsis provided NOTHING, and I’m not sure what “whump” is, but I found this fic while searching for another I’d previously read to feature, and it was PURE hurt/comfort. I’m hurt/comfort trash (am I behind the internet times to use that term?), so I couldn’t resist featuring it. Lan Zhan has found Wei Ying and the Jiang siblings on their boat after the burning of Lotus Pier. Wei Ying is ridiculously injured. His siblings have no idea how bad off he is. It’s only 1/1 chapter, but I’m hoping that was a mistake, because I’m down for some gratuitous hurt comfort if you guys are, and it left off at a point that suggested continuation.

Smoldering pillars reach towards the sky, gnarled fingers begging for mercy. He shakes his head, dashing the traitorous thoughts from his head. No. Wei Ying and his brother and sister cannot be dead. Are not dead.


“Beneath the Sun, do hearts endure?” –CMV/AMV Saturday 3/7/20

The hauntingly beautiful lyrics sung by Robyn Ardery as written by Mimi-des (@mcarol85) serve as an English cover of Mo Dao Zu Shi’s OP, here titled “Drunken Dreams of the Past.” They tell the entire story of MDZS for those who are familiar with the plot, and aside from how beautiful it sounds on it’s most basic level, that’s one more reason that I felt the need to feature this AMV; how often does one find this sort of story telling within the limits presented by the existing music?

It’s such a powerful motivator to watch the series, giving away PLENTY to those who know the story already without spoiling the plot for those who are less familiar. It’s mesmerizing across levels (singing, writing, clips).

If you enjoy it as much as I do, please give the creators love, and tell them Shoujo sent you. ❤

Beneath the Sun, do hearts endure?/ The rhythm, their beating, unsure/ To want, to follow, selfless strums are heard/ In the silence, a dream comes undone/ But despite the doubts and against all odds/ This someone, plays the flute/ And still, the truth is unclear/ Yet the tune he plays, of the night in caves/ Reveals to one, his fantasy is alive/ The dream unfurls

-Mimi-des (@mcarol85)

“If you achieve a six pack, then try for eight.” – Hakuouki for the Stage

A few things have happened. Actually, a lot of things have happened. But more on some of those in another post, because we’ve got to get serious about my all-time favorite franchise. I’m about to rock your shoujo otome/anime loving WORLDS right now, fam. 🌎 🌍 💥

YES. You read that right. Never fear, as I’m gonna put it in context.

Aw, who am I kidding? I watched so many of these videos, and I don’t have a clue what’s going on…

So, when I should have been doing homework tonight (I know, I know…), I ran into a few ACTUALLY SUBBED live-action Hakuouki videos. Some seemed to be from a…stage skit? About New Years resolutions? I dunno. Anyway, they almost seemed like they were partially improv based on how hard the actors had to work from cracking up (honestly, one of my favorite parts), and I couldn’t help unironically squealing about some of what I saw and heard.

Yeah, I thought I was stronger than that, too. Apparently not.

So after watching those, I found SEGMENTS OF THE STAGE MUSICALS ALSO SUBBED. It’s a dream. They’re hilarious. I love them. I could cry. 😂 😂 😂 Said shows include such beautiful lines as this:

You read the men, try for an eight! 😂

I’m going to include the videos here so that you, too, can enjoy the madness that is Hakuouki for the stage. Just, you know, because sharing is caring.

~Shoujo ❤

It’s a love-love umbrella and Hajime is distraught.
“Kazama wants to kill us all, but hey, at least that means he is trying his best!” -me, paraphrasing Hijikata, 2020
“You’re not pretty enough for Chizuru,” -me, paraphrasing Okita to Kazama, 2020

And now, bonus that I actually understand IS from a musical(s?) that I desperately want to see…

Hey, man! 😂
Paint it red.

“He shrinks when he doesn’t have enough water! I love himmmm!” –Episodic Commentary on “Merman in My Tub” (pt 1)

YouTube was just like, “Hey. You should watch this show about a this guy who has a merman living in a bathtub at his house.” And, to be fair, I did both watch and greatly enjoy “This Boy Caught a Mermaid,” but I don’t know if this is going to be a similar thing. We’re jumping in, though. We begin.

Episode 1:

There’s a merman in his bathtub. Just saying it I can’t help laughing.

Oh, my gosh. The bath mix. The merman has always wanted a pink bath. Oh wow. How cute!!

He had no idea the merman was a merman until said merman couldn’t spread his legs as he tried to carry the mythical creature to his house to recuperate. I get that he was probably in shock from seeing this man lying nearly dead by the water, but come on. You can see his tail. I’m confident a person doesn’t just overlook something like that.

The colors in this show are very 90s, but so cute!

Wakasa. His name is Wakasa, and the boy who found him is Tatsumi.

Oooohhhhh, “are you trying to dry me out!?” Such cute eyes!!!!!

And now they’re in a bathtub together and that escalated quickly.

Hamburgers are extravagant? I’ve noticed that in anime, often meat itself is pretty much a “fancy” or “sometimes” dish, but here in America, it’s a dietary staple. I don’t eat nearly as much meat as a lot of other people do, honestly, but for many people it’s consumed at each meal.

“To what degree should I treat him as a human or a fish?” lolololol

Episode 2:

Do bathtubs in Japan usually talk? Also I need to convert yen to dollars.

The OP looks like somehting Holanders would make, but I also don’t have a clue who made this show.

Ichi ni ichi ni ichi ni lolol

Saving money by bathing together. He was blushing and then he’s like. Nhah, I’m just gonna work more.

Episode 3:

Oh, my gosh, Wakasa has a friend. Takasu has infiltrated the bathroom.

Half a century???

The guy is an octopus!!!!

The octopus guy has magic to fix things???

Two adult men with out of control lower bodies in such a small space LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL NOOOOH

He’s…he’s being assaulted…. by tentacles…. ??

A FULL BODY MASSAGE!?!?!?!!?!? no! That’s assault!!!

Octopuses love small dark spaces lolol

Episode 4:



I think we’re all just in love with him—WAIT Jellyfish boy Mikuni is leaving!!!!

The octopus and the mermaid are so ridiculous omgosh

J-jellyfish are famous for their massive outbreaks?? Does… does that mean… BABY JELLIES???!?!?!?!!?

Episode 5:

Obligatory Halloween episode? Check.

I gotta find out who animated this.

Tatsumi just keeps doing such sweet things for his aquatic friends. Also, Takasu has fallen under the spell of the jack-o-lantern’s small dark interior.

It’s raining candy.

I thought jellyfish boy didn’t eat. Why does he want candy?

Tatsumi’s blush is adorable. It’s official, I’m gonna adopt them all. But who will be my sons, and who will be my son-in-law???

Episode 6:

Every maiden dreams of taking a bubble bath, but he’s not a maiden!! He’s a merman!

He’s just so happy to take his bubble bath.

They’re in the bath together–BUBBLE FIGHTTT!!!!!!

This is such BL-bait.

I am so emotionally invested in my boys, now. Honestly, what other show is going to let you adopt a jellyfish boy? Not many, I can say that for sure. I haven’t watched a new anime in so long; I look forward to bringing you my thoughts on the last episodes in part 2 of this episodic commentary. 🙂

~Shoujo ❤

“I’m only human” — CMV/AMV Saturday 1/11/20

Christina Perri’s song Human can be applied to few characters as well as it is here applied to Wei Ying/Wei Wuxian of “The Untamed”.* I haven’t been this excited about an entry for the CMV/AMV Saturday series in such a long time.

Wei Ying gives everything he has and IS for those he cares about, often times without them even knowing, and he receives only pain in return. This song says it all; he can take the pain, he can put it away, he can be what they need, he can carry the weight of the world, but eventually… well, as the song says, “I can take so much, ’til I’ve had enough.” Spoilers are contained ahead for the show’s long flashback sequence. Even if you don’t read further, I highly suggest watching the video at the end of the post, because I think it’s going to impact you and perhaps convince you to watch this excellent piece of media.

Wei Ying bites his tongue and holds in his pain while living with the Jiang family, where he’s put on a pedestal by Fengmian (much to Cheng’s detriment) and abused by Madam Yu. While his adopted siblings mourn their parents, he holds his breath. He himself grieves, yes, but he puts it aside to protect Yanli and Cheng at all costs. He saves Cheng from the Wens, but Cheng–mourning for his lost core–pushes him away. He “can stay awake for days” in that he works tirelessly day and night to come up with a solution to help Cheng, and when he realizes what must be done, he does it without reservation over the cost to himself.

He fakes smiles when he returns from torment, having lost his own core and with no hope to aid his siblings without demonic cultivation. He pretends everything is fine even as it eats away at him, and no one knows what he has done for Cheng. He fakes smiles for Yanli. He’s derided at every turn by people who don’t know why he’s made the choices he’s made. He plays the part of his carefree former self, and gives everything he is to his adopted siblings.

He’s strong, capable, and HE CAN DO IT. But, in the end, he really is only human. So many unkind words have been thrown at him, so much hate. There are so many knives in Wei Ying’s heart, and yet he carries on almost mechanically. He’s holding the weight of worlds as he supports the Wen victims because they NEED him; his siblings will be okay now, but he is all the Wen’s have.

He’s turning against a hypocritical cultivation society, and now he’s hated. But he’ll get through it, even though he’s bleeding inside and out. He’s weaker now, but he carries on even as he’s sacrificed everything, including his closest relationships. It’s destroying him.

And in the end, he can take SO MUCH before he’s had enough. With Yanli’s death…

He’s lost the will to go on, even as Lan Zhan–who has desperately tried to be there for Wei Ying–begs him to stay.

(Lan Zhan regrets not doing more to stand by him for the next 13 years, bringing us to where we are as “The Untamed” begins.)

Link if video embed doesn’t work: https://youtu.be/hB2VZfA6hl0

‘Cause I’m only human

And I bleed when I fall down

I’m only human

And I crash and I break down

Your words in my head, knives in my heart

You build me up and then I fall apart

‘Cause I’m only human, yeah

-“Human,” Christina Perri

Have you watched “The Untamed?” I’m obsessed.


*”The Untamed” is the live-action adaptation of MCZS, or “The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation,” as written about here.