Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Short Takes: Kageki Shojo!! 8, Citrus+ 5, and My Pancreas Broke but my Life got Better

Citrus Plus Vol. 5 Kageki Shojo!! Vol. 8 My Pancreas Broke But My Life Got Better

Citrus + (plus) Volume 5
    Yuzu runs into her old middle school friends. She's with Mei and doesn't properly introduce them. Yuzu is torn about how to tell them while fearing they might leave her. Like the rest of the Citrus + series, this volume is definitely lighter as well as a bit more realistic than the original series. If you've been liking this sequel series, this is a total normal volume in that series.

Kageki Shojo!! Vol. 8
    The fall-out of Sarasa missing her first performance due to her sick grandfather. The students also move into their second year. Narata also begins some self-discovery about what her path in the theater might look like. A good overall volume.

My Pancreas Broke but my Life Got Better
    The next volume in the ongoing autobiography manga series by Nagata Kabi. This is the series that started with My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness. My feelings about this volume are similar to my feelings on the last couple, good points, good honesty, uniquely rough art, but also feeling a bit redundant without the heavy hit of that original volume. Tough to know if the original book was alter in the series if it too would feel less, as if it simply hit harder as the first and being so shockingly different. However, as the later volumes have focused more on Nagata's health, alcoholism, and some of her mental health, it doesn't feel as taboo as the first volume's subject matter. Additionally, I really wish she'd go deeper into her relationship with her mother, that looms over everything. Worth a read, but certainly don't expect the intensity of the very first book.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

All comments are moderated by a real person who only checks them once a day. Therefore, comments may take a while before they show up. Thanks for understanding. It's how we keep this a community of lovingkindness.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Skip and Loafer (anime season 1 review)

a highschool girl and boy
    I'll make this quick, I highly recommend "Skip and Loafer" season 1 (let's hope there will be more seasons to follow). It's exactly what you want from a light, but emotionally meaningful, shoujo high-school romance.
    It centers on Mitsumi, who grew up in a small isolated town and heads to Tokyo for high-school with the dream of becoming a politician and returning to her town to help revitalize it. She's everything you want in a shoujo heroine: spunky, earnest, occasionally clumsy, determined, and imminently likeable. She brings people together and she opens people up.
    But in many ways, this first season sees the development of Sousuke, whom one can only presume will be the love interest. He is a former child actor who has some trauma in his past and is trying to lead a normal life, keeping his secrets, and not being his authentic self. 
    Naturally, his time with Mitsumi begins to open up his sense of self worth and we see the first glimmers of their romantic interest blooming. Due to his interactions with her, he begins to push back against old narratives and reclaim pieces of himself. 
    The show is sweet, funny, and earnest. It isn't a deeply psychological show like Kare Kano or Ao Haru Ride, but does have enough emotional depth to balance the light-hearted moments. 
    I particularly loved Mitsumi's voice actress. The animation was also completely fine. Not necessarily anything special, but decent enough quality. 
    Basically, if you like shoujo high-school romance and want something on the lighter but still emotionally meaningful side of things, this is a really enjoyable show. I definitely recommend it. (Currently available on Crunchyroll)


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

All comments are moderated by a real person who only checks them once a day. Therefore, comments may take a while before they show up. Thanks for understanding. It's how we keep this a community of lovingkindness.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Sound proof Drum Isolation Booth in my basement!

    So aside from my day job in special education, and my love of anime and manga (and art, and books, etc...) I used to be a recording engineer/producer. I recently took up drums as a way to keep myself in music. So naturally, I needed to build a soundproof drum room in my basement. Here's a blog post detailing the basics. Perhaps most important is the air handling system I designed (and which is working great in practice).

    I originally designed the room with some added sound proofing features (such as using rockwool) but had to cut some costs when the total materials cost came in (I do all the construction myself). So I ended up with pink fiberglass instead. But after doing much research, it turns out rockwool doesn't make quite as much difference as people say.

    The basic construction including the room having an air gap between the outside foundation walls and the drum room walls. Then there were two layers of drywall on the outside of the wall, pink fiberglass insulation, and two more layers of drywall. For the soffits around the existing HVAC duct work, I did four layers of drywall on the inside of the room, then the insulation, but no drywall on the other side of the soffit. For the ceiling, given the low height of the basement, I went with pink fiberglass between the ceiling joists (first floor floor joists), then a layer of 5/8 OSB, then 2 layers of drywall. Might not seem like much, but that extra half inch of ceiling height helps, especially with the reflection foam on the ceiling after that (remember folks, the wall foam is not sound proofing, it is to limit reflections!).

    The floor plates for the walls were pressure treated in case of moisture from the floor. I kept the cement floor of the basement and just put area rugs instead of a finished floor. Cement slab floors don't transmit sound, so there was no need to build a floating floor and given the low ceiling height, this helped a lot. The floor plates also were caulked under the pressure treated wood, and along each edge, inside and out, to prevent any unevenness in the floor or board from creating a sound gap.

    The door is an exterior steel door with internal insulation. This has good weather stripping for sound, and is better than a wooden door for sound isolation. The challenge was that I had to cut it down due to the low ceiling height. I cut down the bottom edge, reinforced it with additional wood insert, filed down the rough steel edge, and it worked perfectly! 

Here are some random construction pics:

Love google sketchup, I still use the old free one.

Framing, notice on the left, there is an alcove to get access to the central stack snake port (lower left corner)

Insulation and starting drywall.

Cut down the steel door. Then replaced the blocking at the bottom, then glued it all tight and clamped it. After this, I filed down the rough steel edge and primed. Worked perfect.

    But now to the fun part! You can't have a soundproof room, with all the joints caulked, and weather proofed steel doors, without ventilation. You'll roast in there! BUT, if you just run the regular ventilation from the house HVAC system into the room, the sound of the drums (or whatever) will just travel through the vents into the rest of the house, which means you might as well not have even built the room.

    The solution is to build a ventilation system that is NOT connected to the house, but makes use of the fact that the room is in the basement. Basically, I built two baffled duct systems, one with an intake fan, and one with an output fan. The intake fan is located at the front bottom of the room, it draws in cool air from the basement floor. The output fan is located near the ceiling of the drum room, and pulls hot air (which rises) out of the room and spits it back out into the basement. You thus have cool air coming in, warm air going out, and none of this is connected to the house HVAC system. Below I will detail how I built these as well as some acoustic measurements I did showing the sound isolation properties of the baffled vent system.

    The basic premise is to have the sound from the room travel through a twisting and turning path (each right angle slows the sound down, and slow sound is quieter sound). The path should also be absorptive. I went with foam at first and not soft insulation or fabric because I didn't want dust build-up, however, it wasn't quite enough, so when I added a ribbed duct, I added pink insulation in any gaps. So the sound actually goes through the duct, but there's plenty of absorptive material as well. I made the decision to add the duct and foam after doing acoustical tests. You'll see those below too. 

    And then it's also important that your fans don't add noise. The fans were the fun part. I basically bought two 8" super quiet computer case fans, connected them to a cheap 12 volt power adapter, and put that into a switched wall outlet to turn them on and off.

    Lastly, you need to get audio and in and out of the room if you want to record. So I did a multi elbowed PVC conduit into and out of the room, the ends stuffed with foam. It has multiple curves, because each change in direction of sound decreases speed which decreases volume. Works perfect.

Here are pictures with descriptions:

Plywood frame. The box jutting out on the lower left is what will go through the wall into the drum room and have a wall grate placed overtop. The round hole on the bottom right is for the fan.

Here it is with the first layer of foam. 

Added a rigid and ribbed duct with extra pink foam in the gaps after doing acoustical analysis and finding that the hard foam cavity on it's own wasn't enough. Now there's more insulation for the outside, and the ribbed nature of the duct further disrupts and slows the sound.

Here's an early test mounting without the fan for acoustical tests. You can see the test mics laying on top of it.

Here are the two mounted. The bottom one is the cold air intake, the top one in the back is the warm air output from the booth

Side view

Lots to unpack with this one, these are the acoustic measurements with no baffle (just an opening from the drum room into the basement (approx 8"x10"), with the baffle (but without any duct in it), and with the baffle with the duct. The mics were in two positions. "On axis" means directly in front of the opening from the drum room into the basement. "Fan opening" means in front of the part of the baffle where the fan would be (the in/out side of the baffle). For the one with no baffle, I left the mic in the place it would be had the baffle been mounted. Omni directional measurement mics were used. 

As you can see, starting with the on-axis (top row), we get typical white noise profile with no baffle, the mic is simply picking it up straight from the speaker. With the baffle (but no duct in the baffle) we get significant high end and mid-range attenuation (YAY!) but the low end is still not great. Once we add the vent with the added pink foam (top, far right), the low end drops as well. This is because there is more between the mic and the inside of the baffle. The sound goes through the side wall of the metal duct, then pink foam, the rigid foam, then the plywood (instead of just the rigid foam and plywood).

The bottom row is at the fan side. You can see from the left bottom, that high end is a bit attenuated as you would expect since the speaker is in the drum room, projecting out the vent opening, and is perpendicular to the mic placement. The middle bottom shows that with the baffle (with no duct) there is the expected additional high end/mid attenuation. And the bottom right shows the additional modest low end attenuation with the duct and pink foam added. 

All in all, with the baffle, duct, and two types of insulation, we're getting upwards of 20 db attenuation at some frequencies, and at least modest attenuation at the low frequencies (the hardest to cut down). In practice, when walking around the drum room while someone was playing, I was blown away by just how quiet the sound leakage was from these vent systems. Worked better than I hoped.

For fun, I did the same tests using music (Thanks vintage Paramore!):

You can basically see all the same stuff as before. Highs and mids are dramatically cut from the no baffle tests (on the far left). Lows are still hard to cut down, but there's at least some drop.

Here's the audio conduit using PVC:

Here are some pics of the finished room. Enjoy!

You can see one soffit around an existing HVAC line. You can also see the hot air outtake vent in the upper right corner of the picture. There are power outlets on the three walls without the door.

Picture from the door, looking in.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

All comments are moderated by a real person who only checks them once a day. Therefore, comments may take a while before they show up. Thanks for understanding. It's how we keep this a community of lovingkindness.

SHORT TAKES: Kageki Shojo vol. 7, Like a Butterfly vol. 1, Even Though We're Adults Vol. 6, A condition called Love Vol. 3, Stealing Rembrants (book), Tonikawa Season 2, Tomo-chan is a Girl Season 1

    I've been awol. Thankfully for good reasons. But I know I haven't posted in forever. But I've been reading and watching and here are some very very short takes on all of that:


Kageki Shojo vol. 7 - Now that I've embraced what the series is, and isn't, its a fun read. I continue to like that there really aren't any antagonists, and Sarasa continues to be compelling. I like that she's working to go beyond her natural talent and really thinking about her own development. I'm eager to see what she does in the performance.

Like a Butterfly vol. 1 - I like Suu Morishita's art but found her previously released series disappointingly conventional after a solid start (although maybe Like a Butterfly came out before it in Japan?). Sadly, the first volume of this starts out very conventionally. That being said, sometimes conventional is okay. A simple girl meets boy. I am cautiously intrigued to see how they develop Suiren's character given that I'm a bit skeptical of her presentation in this first volume. But maybe she'll be humanized a bit more. She feels a bit "objecty" to start. We'll see.

Even Though We're Adults vol. 6 - So I'm a huge fan of Takako Shimura. Huge. I'm still on the fence with this series. But thankfully it continues to be interesting and messy, things I love in her work. I've read this volume several times but it feels a bit like filler. I'm still very into seeing where things go and how they get there though.

A Condition Called Love vol. 3 - It's settling into a pretty conventional story. Valentine's chocolates. Conventional is fine, like I said about Like a Butterfly. But given how it started, I was hoping it would be a bit darker and moodier. Where is my next Kare Kano or Ao Haro Ride?


Stealing Rembrants - I'm a big big fan of art theft books, art forgery books, etc... So I was interesting in this book detailing a huge number or Rembrandt heists throughout the years. Sadly, it was disappointingly written. The underlying stories are cool (and true) but the presentation was middling in the prose (and sometimes even worse) and the book was organized a bit strangely. An interesting read, but not an engrossing one which is a shame given the topic. There are better books out there on these topics.


Tonikawa Season 2 - I believe my review of season 1 was basically this: "Better than it should have been, pretty bad animation." And that's basically the review of season 2. Minimal character development, basically the same type of stuff as season 1. But at least we get a little more of the behind the scenes as to who Tsukasa might be (or what she might be?). The show kills time in an inoffensive way, but is very mediocre.

Tomo-chan is a Girl Season 1 - I had started the manga a few years back and got bored quickly. After the first couple episodes of the anime, I was feeling the same way. However, the anime very quickly got things moving, characters developing and changing, and was a fun series. The pacing worked here, perhaps better than the manga. I definitely enjoyed this as light-hearted fare. 


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

All comments are moderated by a real person who only checks them once a day. Therefore, comments may take a while before they show up. Thanks for understanding. It's how we keep this a community of lovingkindness.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Annie on My Mind (Book Review)

Two teen girls hold hands, their foreheads touching as they lean in towards each other.
    I'm not sure how I came across a recommendation to read this book, but "Annie on My Mind" by Nancy Garden was a beautiful and minorly startling read. Startling only because it was written so openly about gay teen girls back in 1982! It both felt of it's time and equally prescient 40 years later. But the short take: do you like lesbian teen stories that are beautiful (you probably do and that's why you read my blog)? If so, this is just a really sweet and well written teen novel from the 80s about being gay and in love.
    The story focuses on Liza, who attends an ailing private school in a nice part of New York City and her chance encounter at a museum with Annie, who attends a public school in a not-so-nice part of 1980s New York City. They click instantly, and then, they really click and they keep clicking, and they keep getting closer, and...

My Cute Little Kitten volume 1 (manga Review)

Two twenty-something women in work clothes, one with a laptop. Standing a few feet apart facing each otehr. A small cat leaps between them.
    Have you read Milk Morinaga's other works? Do you like Milk Morinaga's other works? I think those are probably pretty crucial questions to answer before deciding to read "My Cute Little Kitten" volume 1.
    For those uninitiated, Milk Morinaga writes yuri manga that features explicit dating and romance between high-school or adult female characters. The fact that Morinaga-san makes these relationships explicit and clear is a huge plus compared to a lot of the wishy-washy yuri out there. And some of Morinaga-san's work is generally quite good ("Girl Friends," some of the stories in "Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink," and my favorite: "Secret of the Princess"). But some of her series are a bit lack-luster compared to others and frankly, "My Cute Little Kitten" doesn't start super strong.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

A Condition Called Love - Volumes 1 and 2 (Manga Review)

A high school girl sits in between her boyfriends legs
    A few more volumes are going to be needed to really assess "A Condition Called Love." So far, I've read the first two volumes. Basically, it's a high-school romance between a guy who loves hard and a girl who isn't sure she's interested in love. They decide to have a trial relationship, and by volume 2, she's interested in continuing to see where it goes. The art is decent. Just a straightforward Shoujo series on the surface.
    However, I am either intrigued or concerned about how they depict the boy and his actions. In some ways he could be seen as a very loving boyfriend who dotes on her. But it comes off as obsessive and a bit creepy to me. That could be good if it decides to really explore his past, maybe there's trauma there, maybe he's overcompensating, or maybe this series becomes dark like "Kare Kano." That would be really cool to see it dig in.