Chocolate Marshmallows Beans and Blood, Valentine’s Day in Asia

Hello Island Guests. At the time I am writing this and posting this , it is valentines day. The day of love. A perfect little day for such a loveable and loving little Weeb like me. Yet in the western day also a sad day. Pinkie tends to celebrate Valentine’s by herself.  I love the amounts of heart in the store though when I go on a little walk about so I still love the day. More so I love the days after.. in which heart shaped chocolate gets discounted. But did you weebs like me know that Valentines is a lot different in Japan? It’s not just about that one true love! It’s about all love! And I love it!

Gimme Chocolate!

(No valentine’s Ddy would be complete without this)

Valentine’s day in Japan is basically nothing like we know it. Where the western world puts the focus on the guys providing something nice for their girls most and foremost in Japan it’s the girls who have to cough  up the gifts. Valentines day in Japan is very much focussed on chocolate. So not a lot of heart plushies, no giving expensive gifts. You give chocolat. But not just to your lover. Valentine’s day is about giving chocolate to those who matter to you. In any sense of the word. This means your family gets chocolate, your boss gets chocolate and all your coworkers get chocolates for your classmates.. chocolates for everyone!

(It took me a while to find a picture that actually showed a Chocolat Rain)

The funniest part about this whole thing came to be due to a translation error. I guess the Japanese misunderstood the point.. kind off.. Even though the message is lost here as well. I know that my best friend Bean is giving her boyfriend like a 500 dollar gift.. (he would have been so fudged if he lived in Japan). Now in Japan this would be a REALLY stupid idea.. well or kinda smart.. but more on that later..  you are just supposed to choc it up! And of course there are rules! It’s japan after all!

You have to give everyone chocolat that is a rule.. but you can give them gradations of chocolates. There are levels of chocolateness which will tell a person how close you are to them. So let’s take a look at all the gifting types!

Cho-Giri Choco is the cheapest to give.. the most toxic to get. Giri stands for obligation and Cho.. I think in this context stands for being far away from the gift giver.  It’s the cheapest chocolat that you give to people.. not to exclude them. The thing you give to the female colleague who keeps showing your pictures of her cat, that woman who keeps hosting her Grey’s Anatomy watch along.. where no one ever shows or that blogger you kinda always just leave a like for but that you never really read because she is just to weird.  Cho-Giri is basically the chocolate for the Meg Griffin’s of society.

Shut Up! Have some Cho-Giri Choco

Giri Choco is the social obligation chocolat you don’t actually mind giving.. for example to the colleagues you like and of course something extra for your boss, your mother or your teacher.  Even if you don’t like your boss you do not give them the cheapest Giri.. because he will know! You give them something just a bit fancier because otherwise they will destroy you! Basically it’s a treat for anyone who is on the “wedding guest list” in the “we have to invite them” part of the list rather than the “I want them to be there” list.

Tomo Choco is a treat meant for friends and those who have a non romantic place in your heart. While it is still okay to buy them chocolate this has to be more luxurious than that of the obligated ones. There has to be some love into this gift. This means you have to write them a handwritten note, or spend a lot of time making, some cool gift wrapping and a real tomodachi would go through the effort to hand craft chocolat for their friends as well. Still Tomo Choco can still be pretty relaxed in some circles as long as it shows at least a bit of a personal touch to really showcase your affection.

Honmei Choco is the chocolate made for that special someone.  Traditionally Valentines Day in Japan was used as a way for shy girls to confess their love to boys by offering them a tribute of chocolates. Of course also that special someone you deeply care for also had to become included so somehow this ended up being the highest gradation of chocolat. Looks are very important for Honmei. When bought it has to at least look expensive and fancy and it has to show very much care. Yet in the more traditional interpretation you really have to make this one yourself. You have to put your love into it while making it .. and it is believed that if a boy likes your chocolates maybe you can get together.. but we will return to that subject in a bit. Let’s start looking at what the guys have to do in return first.

If you love Chocolate should you give Chocolate chocolate?

I love you three times over! The white day story!

One month after Valentines Day it’s the turn for boys to treat the girls. On the 14th of March Asia celebrates White Day. It started out as an invention of the marshmallow industry in an attempt to up their sales numbers like how the chocolate industry did. On this day guys return gifts to the girls who gifted them stuff. This started out with paying them back with marshmallows but as it turned out, girls did not enjoy marshmallows as much as they did chocolates. So the whole Giri thing got replaced by flowers, cookies and chocolates.. anything would do as long as the packaging at the very least was white. 

Now I am unsure if this is an invention of the marshmallow industry because that would seem rather unpractical.. but there is a rule of three for white day. At least for Honmei class gifts as far as I am aware, a boys gift has to at least cost three times as much as the gift the girl gives. See now how Bear.. the boyfriend of Bean would be in trouble if he had lived in Japan?!  He would have to spend more than I get in two month’s of income on a gift for her. On White Day the girls are treated by the boys. Restaurants are overbooked and basically all that stuff we get here on V-Day. There is a lot less focus on crafting and a lot more focus on commercialism. You have to make sure you spend more than your girlfriend.

(White day when your girlfriend gave you an expensive gift)

As far as I am aware White Day mostly seems about reciprocating gifts.  While Japanese Valentine’s Day is about confessing feelings, White Day is much more about reciprocating feelings. You do not ask people to celebrate the day with you.. you just return a favor….. how romantic. Though I do think it might be for the best.. otherwise Yaoi couples would end up in an endless loop of gifting. Guy 1 gives boyfriend a gift.. who has to gift back something three times as expensive.. than guy 1 has to get a gift that is three times as expensive as that other gift and so on!…Maybe they did think about this more than I thought .

This system kinda does make sense! But now I’ll never get expensive gifts!

A Day for the unloved: Black Day

South Korea even has a THIRD Holiday in the season and this one is called Black Day. I know South Korea isn’t japan so you all probably care a whole lot less but it is kinda cute and sad at the same time.  Black Day is unofficially celebrated on the 14th of April. Black day is for those who did not receive any gifts on Valentine’s Day or on White Day.  It brings people together to fairly cheap restaurants or places and everyone of these single people than eat Jajangmyeon together. This is Korean Dish filled with Chinese Noodles, Vegetables and Pork.. it all gets covered in a thick black bean sauce hence the name black day. From Chocolats to beans is quite a downgrade!

The dish does look good though!

There is something oddly charming to an event like Black Day. It allows singles together and support each other in their “loneliness” and maybe even acquainted with one another.. perhaps even planting some affection and love to harvest in the next season of love. From what i have seen though this is still mostly a guy thing! 

Still I will make sure that in two month I have some noodles with pork and black sauce! Ever since I learned of it .. I actually have made black sauce noodles every 14th of april that i am single. (Which basically was all of them..after learning of this holiday). I haven’t always used chinese noodles or pork though! No one notices anyway.  Now Black Day isn’t the only Black chapter in the book that is Japanese in 2011 some tweets began to circulate the internet… for a handful of girls in Japan.. Valentine’s is about BLACK MAGIC.

Uhm You can keep your Chocolates… Arigato Desu!

Now we all know that putting a little love in the dish makes it taste a lot better. Mothers home cooked food tastes better because she puts in her love for you when making your favorite pasta or your beloved sunday roast. We can almost taste that bit of personality she puts into it.. taste her essence… and to a select few girls in Japan Valentines day has a ……………similar connotation.  For the most part putting your love into a dish is good enough for the girls, yet in 2014 a message became very trending on Twitter. While blown out of proportions I unfortunately can pretty much confirm the legitimacy of using black magic in Valentine’s Day candy. Luckily only from second hand experience. A friend of mine (At the time) had some enchanted candies. (Not the really really bad kind fortunately)  The Black magic of Valentines believe that if you put something of yourself into the candy,(Homei only) it will help those who eat it fall in love with you.I do not mean this in a spiritual sense.. there are some Honmei out there in Japan each year that contain.. physical personal essence.

Now my friend was lucky and he found a hair in his chocolat. At first he thought it was an accident as if it just dropped in there by mistake. later he realised the girl was actually very superstitious and believed he would fall in love with her.  Unfortunately the 2014 tweet popularised putting other parts in as well. Pieces of skin, .. the type of hair that is less likely to land in the chocolat by accident but also stuff like tears or finger nails. Alas… that was also not what the 2014 tweet was about. They talked about how to add your blood to the chocolat.  Adding your blood to the chocolate made with love would make those who eat it fall for you almost certainly. Among all the types of blood one would be the most potent and that is the blood of a girl on her period… Now again I do know the reactions on the tweet were exaggerated but three people I know personally who lived in Japan have confirmed to me that it does in fact happen in rare cases.  The one guy targeted himself. A gal pal who studied there a little while before the tweet.. but after it’s popularisation in 2011 asked around on her school and some told her they would consider it had they been in love. Could still be a joke but she believed it. The third told a very convincing story to.. so if your girlfriend is on the Yandere side…. ?!

(She still lookins kinda cute)

While probably mostly an urban legend it’s not that weird to think that in a country where they sell second hand panties from vending machines (or used to before they got outlawed) stuff like this could be real to. Regardless Valentines is pretty different in asia than it is here in the west. There is positivity about it that all forms of love matter not just that one true love. It’s also about loving your friends family and everyone in your live as well. Even those you normally would show no love at all.. get a little token of affection. Which really charms me.  I tried to make chocolate for my friends one but in the end I ended up with a ruined bowl, some minor burns.. a very filthy kitchen counter and some broken chocolat unicorn parts that looked like they had been an accident ..prior to being broken. Still for those who are alone today.. think about the Japanese meaning of the day.. somewhere out there there must be someone you love.. in some way! Be it your friend, your senpai or your family! Hey your even reading my blog today.. so maybe you love me as a blogger too.. I am sure I love you as a blogger as well so in a way this is our day as well. If I could I would make you all Tomo Candy. Just to be safe though.. only eat pre packaged candies!

(A wholesome Summary)

Pinkie in Search of a Waifu (Part 3) Aoi Hana

It’s almost Valentine’s day and by the looks of it , I am going to be all by myself.  To prevent such an incident from happening next year , on this blog we have started the quest to find me a Waifu! In this episode we will look at the third of Fred’s four suggestions. After which I will need six more to start our Bachelorette series. Where we pit these girls against each other to earn the roses and find out who will be my waifu! So keep the suggestions coming.  Today we look at the anime Aoi Hana!
Who will get to live with me in my Bachelorette mansion?! 

This article contains spoilers for the entire series of Aoi Hana. That being said these spoilers are all fairly obvious outcomes of their respective story. As far as I am concerned none of these spoilers ruin the show due to the way the show tells its own story and how the inevitable the outcome of the show feels.

Sweet Blue Flower

What is it with Yuri series and the colour blue? Is blue some sort of symbol colour for gay girls that I am unaware about. I don’t think it’s much of a thing in the Netherlands and my Italian friend didn’t know about it either! Italians love blue so they should know! I really wonder though! Yet I can not let that distract me. Aoi Hana is a show about two childhood friends Akira and Fumi who reunited with each other once they start commuting to their new schools. Both join their respective schools drama club and their paths begin to cross more and more. Fumi is a lesbian woman and Akira is mostly oblivious to love.  We see them form relationships with others from friendly ones to romantic once as we explore what is is truly important in any relationship. This all is set on the background of their drama clubs performing the play Wuthering Heights which in its core is about a toxic relationship. So this is one of those heavy analogies shows!

(I really hate this shwo’s intro.. it has very little to do with the actual show)

The contenders for the Waifu list are limited to the main characters this time, as all four main characters show at the very least a hint of being into women. Most secondary girls or women are rarely given enough depth to see if they are into girls though after watching the entire 11 episode series I can fairly certainly say we got no other contenders. Having said that, my attention has slipped throughout the course of this show a few times so I might have missed a subtlety. 

The four main characters are Manjoume Fumi a first year who is socially a bit awkward. She is emotionally very frail and cries a lot and the most fully convinced lesbian in the series. Her best friend Okudaira Akira is about her counterpart. She is bubbly , tiny energetic and  a super positive entity that smiles with everything even her own failures… she is referred to Achan by Fumi. Their childhood tradition. Sugimoto Yasuko is the bisexual popular girl that every girl wants to be with (even the straight ones) the cool kid. She plays basketball and is tall and butch and thusly gets the male lead role in the school play. She has her heart set on Fumi..but keeps a secret in her heart as well. Finally we have Ikumi Kyouko who is Akira’s classmate and she is desperately and very one sidedly in love with Yasuko. She is an artist who joined the drama club to be close to Sugimoto Senpai but gets more than she bargained for when she finds out her new friend’s best friend is in a relationship with the woman she loves.

(Akira, Kyoko, Yasuko, Fumi)

Triangles Everywhere

I will admit I struggled with this anime a bit. It is not necessarily a bad show though. I really loved the story it had to tell. What I like less is the way it is set up. Take for example the main love story that is central in these 11 episodes. Yasuko and Fumi , it is a somewhat toxic relationship where Yasuko is very much depicted as a selfish person. This is shown throughout not one but two triangle relations around the talentful basketball player. First of all there is Kyouko who loves her while she is with Fumi. This sours the relation between Fumi and an extend. They aren’t mean to another but very tense still. It would have been an interesting dynamic if Sugimoto would not have one sidedly loved her male teacher, kinda using Fumi as a rebound. Throughout the show we also see Fumi notice her relation is not going that well and be more drawn to Akira…who in turn kinda, but not really, shows interest in Kyouko.Who is also desired by her fiancé in name only Kou. It all feels very convoluted for an 11 episode manga and in the end that does form a bit of an issue.

It doesn’t really help that the instigator of everyone’s misery, Sugimoto Yasuko is a fairly horrible person. She is super petty, often has temper tantrums, she is snobbish and selfish and a very VERY poor loser. Near the middle of the show the stage group performs Wuthering Heights, which is about the toxic love between Heathcliff and Catherine and the audience speaks their minds on how terrible Catherine is, she is an analogy for Sugimoto herself. Which brings me to another little gripe I had with this series. This analogy feels a bit hammered in. Wuthering Heights is a fairly well known novel by Emily Bronté and one would figure people who see the play either know the story or go there to support their family. 

Instead we see the crowd analyse the story so the anime and manga can make analogies… and that’s not the only times stuff like that happens. For some reason this only happens to Yasuro though. Like the show really wants to hammer in how terrible this person is. By the end of the show she sees the error of her ways ..but because she doesn’t get what she wants she then decides to bail on everyone and go study abroad. While doing this we see newspaper headlines on how the girl has pushed her basketball team to great heights how they need her and now she bails for petty reasons. We see her family acknowledge how petty she is and she mistreat Kyouko to a ridiculous extend. Even when the latter is trying to get closure she is shown to ignore the message that would give the other girl some closure finally. We get it! Sugimoto Yasuko is bad! She will not be my Waifu Pick.

Friendship is love too!

Because of how clearly toxic this relationship between Fumi and Yasuko is from the get go we are all waiting for her to end up with Kyouko or her Achan and the show is at it’s best when the old love is out of the picture. Luckily enough that is plenty of time still. The show really shines when it’s just Achan and Fumi.. or even the little summer camp with all their friends but Yasuko was adorable. Fumi begins to develop feelings for Akira who still has this weird non flirty but very connected kind of way. I really liked those feelings because they actually felt genuine. While Fumi clearly loved Yasuko the doom flag was raised from episode 2 so on a subconscious level I never really bought it. 

All the other girls are connected through friendship.. a friendship that deepens over the course of the series and the show does a really fine job of depicting how friendships can mean so much more than just to find your significant other. Fumi has friends, Sugimoto has not, one gets a fairly happy end, the other is miserable. Romance shows tend to .. hype up that significant other over anything in the whole wide world where nothing else matters anymore.. this show keeps its feet firm on the ground.

I might even go as far as to say this isn’t actually a romance show. It’s not about love.. in the romantic way.. it’s about unrequited love and false love more so than real one. It’s about how romantic love can be such a strong desire that sometimes we are just chasing ghosts. Kyouko is one of the strongest examples. Not only is she desperately in love, with sugimoto senpai,  she herself has a suitor who is desperately in love with her. Kou her fiancé in name only is often strung along for a ride that will only inflict pain on him. Even when he asks Akira to help him pick out a perfect give to please her, she immediately knows the gift is to perfect to be from him! They aren’t compatible which made me think that Kyouko and Akira just might be.Kyouko is being pictured as desperate though even if she tries to move on she simply can not  let alone with Kou. In the end we get a girl that has her charm but also still feels kind of mean spirited and also a bit toxic so our little painter will not be moving into the Bachelorette mansion with me!

A blooming flower

That leaves us with Achan and Fumi-Chan , by far the best characters in the entire series. Some of the best characters I have seen in a fair bit and while I do think they would fit nicely together the ending of she show keeps things fairly open. Which apparently is a huuuge issue for people all across the internet. To those people I really have to ask if they watched the same show as me. There are incredibly strong  implications that the two will get together, simply for being two non toxic people and Fumi realising how to cope with relationships in the end. She tells the only cure for unrequited love is moving on gracefully and to only have room in your heart for one love. While Fumi was obsessed and in love with her cousin at the end of the show she realises that wasn’t her first love at all, her first love was she could finally let her cousin go. Now she only has one love in her heart which is Achan. Should that love go unanswered she has the tools to move on gracefully. All the flags for a successful relation fall into place at that moment. Fumi will find her happy ending no matter what. We have seen hints that Akira might swing that way as well so it may just be a matter of time. 

That being said I can still use the vagueness of the ending to snatch Fumi as my Bachelorette contender. While I love Achan for her quirky behaviour the character is simply way to immature to me. I found her voice a bit annoying in all honesty even though I do like the quirkiness of it I think I would get annoyed with her fairly soon. While I am happy and cheerful minded like her, I do not have the huge amount of energy she has and would not be able to find my rest with her. She is a great and loyal friend who would be fun to hang out with Yet I would get that same energy around since she is Fumi’s best friend as well. The latter has shown she can perfectly live with Achan just being a friend.. as long as I managed to conquer Fumi myself though.

Fumi is the only person I really respect in this series, she has shown growth and has become more confident even if she is still the easily to cry loveable socially awkward girl she was at the beginning. Miss Manjoume has accepted who she is by the end of the show, something she very much struggles with in the beginning. She isn’t as afraid to tease and to have fun. She also isn’t afraid to defend herself even if it hurts others.  I could not be with someone who constantly diminishes themselves just in favor of others. 

It’s very annoying when something you love gets a bad review or if that restaurant you like and love to talk about gets called gross a few hours before you go eat there. If I love a person more than anything in the world and they keep devaluing themselves to below everything else.. it kind of feels like that love is being devalued as well. The person that I love more than anything in the world feels like they need to give up everything for others because they are not worth more… that would include they would give up me. I went through that once with an eternal good person.. and that just doesn’t work. You have to somewhat love yourself to be loved.

Fumi does this the best , she matters, what she wants matters. When we first see her she can barely pick anything from a menu.. or a club to join .. but in the end she asks for what she wants, she tells people her needs and lives by it and we see a much happier Fumi, who doesn’t just cry from sadness but for the first time we see her cry with happiness. Those type of tears are from a woman I could see myself being with! Those are the tears of a strong woman.

In the end I got to watch a very enjoyable show, that is slightly bogged down by the character of Sugimoto. There is just to much going on with her and things drag on to long in her romance. I hated the unnecessarily nude intro as it barely has anything to do with the show and skipped it every time. Yet there is still a quite enjoyable anime that stumbles for me around the fourth till seventh episode. Those could have been removed and put at the end to give us a stronger sense of closer for an even better show.  The art style with it’s fluffy looking backgrounds took some time to get used to but grew on me as charming. All in all a good anime to put on for valentines if you do not want something overly sweet. 

More Pinkie in Search of A Waifu

-Liz and the Blue Bird
-Bloom into You

Please suggest a show in the comments!