I ended up getting a premium account on Crunchyroll. I've been watching Yowamushi Pedal, first and second series, all of Brave 10, both series of Sword Arts Online, Jet and I are still going with Fairy Tail, and now I'm watching Log Horizon. Jet and I have a few months to catch up on One Piece, still, and are about two-thirds through Naruto Shippenden, which is pretty amazing to me. I finished the Naruto manga and loved it thoroughly.
Yowamushi Pedal is a fun series about a high school boys' bicycling team. It follows one Onoda Sakamichi, a boy who loves anime and has glasses and feels like a complete nerd, but who is a naturally awesome bicyclist. He takes to it like a duck to water, but needs a lot of training for how to do it well, to strengthen up, and to figure out the overall strategies of the races. It's all very much a team effort, and I love that and especially love Onoda himself, and his sheer joy of riding.
I found Shunsui again in Brave 10! *laughs* The lord of the series is just as creative, manipulative, outwardly lazy and without pride, loved by his retainers, and is just as capable a swordsman. He even goes up with nothing but a fan against an enemy with a katana and intent. I loved him. The series is very short, only twelve episodes, and the plot gets kind of rushed in the last two. But it's fun, complete, and I really enjoyed the fights. The secondary characters are all very distinct, too, and I liked that.
Sword Arts Online was recommended by my sister, and as she put it, "At the roll out of a full-immersion multi-player virtual world, everyone that logs into the world finds themselves stuck in it, unable to logout. They find out that if they die in the game world, they'll die in the real world, and the only way out is to defeat all the levels of the game. But the really interesting things happen after they finally beat the game."
I know some people who like the first arc the best, too. I liked it a lot. But my favorite quote comes from the next arc, when Kirito (means "to cleave" which is the best name for a swordsman I've ever come across) explains to Leafa why he has to help her, even if she thinks they aren't going to come out alive from the situation. She even tells him that if he killed her to stop her from saving the leader of her clan, so that he could profit from it, she'd be okay with that.
"In the end, it's just a game, so do what you want. If you want to kill someone, kill them. If you want to steal, you steal. I've met more people who think that way than I'd want. In a way, it's true. I used to think the same way. But it's not true...
"There are things you have to protect especially because it's a virtual world. I learned that from someone important. If you give in to your impulses in this world, the price is that it changes your personality in the real world. The player and the character are one and the same. I like you, Leafa. I want to be your friend. I'd never attack someone like that just for my own benefit."
It touched off something in me when I heard that. I've been roleplaying for a very long time, and gaming in all kinds of worlds. I've stayed away from World of Warcraft in part because I know that it would suck me in all the way. I have a hard enough time with "just" single-player Minecraft taking over my reality and my choices.
But it also brought home to me how my roleplaying in face-to-face games reflects what Kirito says, that I choose to act a certain way in games because everything is possible in those worlds. I have to write up the games that I played last October, not as stories, this time, but as games that I really enjoyed from the fact that they were games with really interesting people who made fantastic, creative choices, not trying to bury it in the details of a story this time around. Gaming is gaming, and while it's a story, it's really a shared story, where the dynamics of the sharing make it something entirely different.
Anyway... I'd recommend both series of Sword Arts Online, though I didn't much care for the last few episodes of the first series, and I stopped for a little while near the beginning of the guns arc, because it seemed to be getting a lot darker, fast. But the very last arc of the second series was just amazing... so... yeah. I was glad I stuck it through. I was also amused that they touched on the interesting notion that in all Japanese games there has to be fishing... lol.
Fairy Tail is pretty okay stuff, light enough, but sometimes it gets downright silly. The second series started out really dark, but the second arc sometimes just makes me hide my head in my hands. *laughs* Jet thinks its pretty funny, though. He likes the Yowamushi Pedal a lot more, but is happy to just follow it through before going back to One Piece or Naruto.
The newest series I'm following by myself is Log Horizon. Another "people get stuck in a game world" sort of thing, but they have respawn, which SAO didn't. *laughs* And really awful food, that turns out to be a problem with player assumptions. And they end up finding out that if they make everything from scratch and have the right skillset, you get really tasty food with real texture! *laughs* And as the cumulation of all that angst, the chef makes, of all things, curry rice.
I still remember Sanji teaching the young Marine cook how to make the Marine Curry with beef. I'll admit that up to now, I've always just used the Japanese curry blocks. My mom even used to use those to make her curry, which was very much the Japanese style of curry, with carrots, potatoes, and peas along with chicken. But the Marine Curry, Rock Li's curry, and the curry in Log Horizon were all *beef* curries with the usual vegetables. And they made it entirely from scratch. And after watching that episode I finally decided that I was going to make it from scratch and it was going to be a beef curry, not chicken.
After a little research, I found that Marc Matsumoto had come up with a lovely, from scratch recipe for Japanese curry. Of course, I had to change it a little. A lot, really... as I really wanted to use beef and not chicken, and a good stewing beef takes a lot longer to cook than chicken thighs.
I had John find two pounds of chuck for me that I cut in to small cubes. I had Penzey's garam masala, sweet curry powder, and hot curry powder, but I also had the Savory Spice Shop's Ghost Curry powder. Ghost chilies are some of the hottest on the planet, but they have a lovely fruity flavor if you can get around the heat. As much as I love Penzey's authentic garam masala, I wasn't going to use two tablespoons of just it for any curry.
I caramelized the onions in my huge Dutch oven and it really did take about half an hour. Then I actually used the teaspoon of garam masala to season the beef before I browned it in the onion pot, as the spice does better if it has a little time in hot oil. I added the water, but not the carrots or the potatoes, and skimmed it when it came to a boil. I added the salt and a grated apple (with the peels still on, as I like that better) as directed in the recipe.
When it was a rolling boil, I stuck the whole pot in my Wonderbag. I'd gotten one for Christmas, and it's been my go-to slow cooker since. I've done two Tikka Masalas, chili, and a soup in it and it came out amazing. So I did that with the beef, and let it tenderize for a couple of hours in its own residual heat. When it was about an hour before dinner, I soaked the short grain rice. Half an hour before dinner, I started the rice cooker, and put the curry pot back on the stove, added the chunked carrots and potatoes and let it cook until the vegetables were tender, and by then the beef was fork tender too.
I made the roux while the vegetables were cooking, and instead of the two tablespoons of garam masala, I used two teaspoons of garam masala, two teaspoons of sweet curry, one teaspoon of hot curry, and one teaspoon of the ghost curry. I was also really grateful that I have tonkatsu sauce as a staple for our family. Jet loves it, and it lent a real complexity of flavor to the whole of the roux, too.
I added the roux as directed, and then added the frozen peas.
The results were amazing. The first three spoonfuls were entirely mild, without even a hint of heat, but by the end of the bowl, I was sweating and my sinuses were clear. *laughs* The boys loved it, and Jet's asked for leftovers for his lunch tomorrow. The complexity of the flavors was really great, and the sauce was silky and smooth. It was like the difference between my slow cooker tikka and the pre-packaged sauce packets, or the difference between store bought tortillas and fresh grilled, or the difference between a frozen store-bought lasagna and a homemade one. I was amazed at how much more there was to it than when I'd made it with just the bricks.
So I'm really happy that I made it, inspired as it was by all my anime indulgences.