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Happy anniversary to Culture Shack!

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Logging onto WordPress, I recently got a notification that Culture Shack turned 9 on the 24th May! 9 years is such an incredibly long time, and whilst I might not have the most consistent track record with posts, it has amounted to a fair few entries on the blog.

Whilst editing a bunch of posts to fit, I found it quite interesting to read my older posts and reflect on how things have changed. When the blog started, it was mostly a place to post reviews and other articles that I was writing for a variety of sites. Now, I write mostly for myself, and I write reviews for Push Square which I still cross-post here. I try to write a variety of content, from blog posts and unboxings, to reviews and listicles. I know I fail at this a lot, but it is something I’m actively working on.

Looking through old posts, it’s really interesting to track how my interests have changed. Of course, the biggest change has been me becoming interested in anime and manga, but you can almost chart this through my posts; a real divergence from TV and film, and a sudden appearance in mentions about anime and manga. I’ve obviously loved videogames all my life, but you can almost see me double down on this throughout the 9 years this blog has existed.

Reading through is really amusing to see how I’ve changed in some places. I cared enough about the How I Met Your Mother finale to write a whole blog post about it, but now I couldn’t tell you the last piece of live action TV that really affected me. It’s just the way interests and habits change, I guess, but it is a little hard to believe the same person as I am now wrote those earlier posts!

So, here’s to more posts! I’ll do my best to get a content together and finally have something that resembles a content schedule on this thing! Thanks for your support!

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Unboxing: April SoKawaii

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I’ve previously mentioned that I wasn’t going to buy any subscription boxes prior to my trip to Japan, and then the subsequent cancellation of the trip led to March “sad-time spending”. I decided during this period that I would buy myself a subscription box, which I felt would either cheer me up, or depress me further as it would remind me of what I was supposed to be experiencing. Just to double down on any potential pitfalls, I also opted for the SoKawaii box, as it had a theme of “Sakura”, and I was due to see the sakura blossoms during my trip.

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The first thing that struck me was how cutely the box was packaged. My previous Yumetwins box was just the items in a box, which is totally fine, I didn’t have any packaging expections, but the SoKawaii box was cutely laid out with pink tissue paper and just had a more visual impact when I opened it. It instantly made me happy, and I was excited to unpack and see what I got.

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Item number 1 was this really cute Rilakkuma blanket. I’m not the biggest Rilakkuma fan, but this blanket is super soft. It’s so hard to take a photo of these blankets, I also struggled in my Christmas box, but this is it on my double bed, so it’s quite large! It also fits my colour scheme in my bedroom, albeit it’s a slightly darker shade of pink.

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The next item was a Cardcaptor Sakura keychain. I knew in advance that the box was coming with a CCS item, and to be honest, it almost stopped me from buying it because I’ve never seen CCS before. I went ahead as I have lots of friends who like it, so I figured I could gift the item to one of them, which is exactly what I’ve done (or will do once lockdown is over!). Still, it’s a really cute item, and it’s a shame I can’t appreciate it fully, but I’m sure its new owner will!

IMG_6758Next up was some sakura chocolate. The packaging is so cute, and totally my aesthetic. I’ve yet to try the chocolate, because I haven’t got round to translating the ingredients yet, and I have a lot of allergies and dietary requirements, so I can’t just trust that chocolate will be okay for me to eat and there’s no translation label. I’m also super fussy with food, so I’m not sure whether I’m looking forward to trying this or not! I guess it’s in keeping with my Japan trip, as I was going to force myself to try some new foods just for the experience!

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Item number four was this really cute bowl! It’s the perfect size for me to put little trinkets in, or little sweets and keep on my coffee table for guests.

 

 

 

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I also got this cute Pokémon figure with Plusle and Minun! It’s a stackable figure, so there are others to collect with different Pokémon on, and then they make up a larger tree. I’m glad I got Plusle and Minun, they’re probably up there with my favourite Pokémon, and there are plenty of worse options I could have got.

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And last but definitely not least, we have my favourite item this month – the sakura Cinnamoroll! He’s just so cute, and so soft! He matches the colour of my bedroom perfectly, so I have him in there hanging off my wardrobe door so I can see him every day, and every time I do he just makes me so happy!

 

 

I’m really happy with my SoKawaii box! It did the job of dulling the void I felt by having to cancel my trip to Japan, and I’m mostly happy with everything that I got (and have found a good home for the one item that I didn’t want to keep). I’d definitely get a SoKawaii box again, in fact I forgot to cancel the subscription, so I am getting a box this month too!

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March purchases

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If you remember, I was due to fly off to Japan on March 27th, a trip which I’ve mentioned in a previous post we had to cancel due to the Covid-19 outbreak. I’m almost over it, kind of, but at point of cancellation in early March, I was undoubtedly in a very bad place, which led me to do a lot of what I’ve called “sad-time spending”. Looking back, I didn’t actually buy as much as I thought I had, so there’s that at least.

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I had put myself on a break from buying subscription boxes, but after not going to Japan, I decided I’d get one. The theme for SoKawaii this month was ‘Sakura’, and as my trip to Japan had been planned for April so we could see the Sakura blossoms, it seemed like the perfect box to get! An unboxing post is coming in the next couple of days, but I’m really happy with everything that came in the box!

 

 

I decided, after months of coveting, that I would finally spring for the vinyl soundtrack of A Silent Voice, arguably one of my favourite anime movies. In my recent move, I’ve been able to set up my record player again, and have my vinyl collection out, so I want to start buying vinyl again. The only trouble is you don’t get k-pop albums on vinyl (at least not that I’ve found anyway, feel free to prove me wrong!), and that’s all I tend to listen to now, so apart from getting some of my favourite western music on vinyl, I’m kind of limited to what I can buy, so having soundtracks of my favourite films seems like a great option! As you can see from the photo, it’s a double vinyl in a really nice blue colour, which I think might make it my first coloured vinyl but I could be totally wrong.

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I totally caved to the hype and decided to get Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I’ve only ever played an Animal Crossing game for maybe an hour at most, but it just looked so cute and wholesome, and everyone was getting really excited about it, so I decided to take the plunge. It came out three weeks ago at time of writing, and I’ve put over 70 hours into it, so I would say that’s a successful gaming purchase. I also bought the Fire Emblem Three Houses DLC, which I’ve yet to play because Animal Crossing has taken over my life. I do plan to write a summary of my time with Animal Crossing so far, so… stay tuned I guess.IMG_6783

 

 

 
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What would a month be without some new manga? I’ve decided I really need to finish some collections instead of just constantly starting new ones, so I bought Ouran High School Host Club volume 8 (and put the rest on my wishlist ready for my birthday in mid-April!). I also got the first volume of given, which I had on preorder after a disastrous purchase at the beginning of the year where I bought the German version, so if anyone’s in the market for that…. I also can’t go a month without buying some BL, so I bought Don’t Be Cruel, which was a double of volumes 1 and 2.

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Finally, I treated myself with some extra money I had earned freelancing to something I had planned to buy in Japan. The Nendoroid of Shigaraki Tomura from Boku No Hero Academia. He’s one of my favourite anime characters, and I now have a little display to him in my living room (pictured below), as well as an ita-bag.

 

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I also bought some boring things like allergy tests, tooth whitening kits and online courses, purely just to keep me occupied as the lockdown gets extended! That wraps up my March purchases, hope you enjoyed!~

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February purchases

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Considering in February I was doing my best to curb my spending for my upcoming Japan trip (more on that later…), I was surprised at how much stuff there was for this post!

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I was very kindly given the light novel of I Want To Eat Your Pancreas for Christmas, but after discussing with a few people, I’ve held off on reading it until I could watch the film. Happily, I haven’t had to wait too long as the film was released on DVD and blu-ray in February, though I’ve still not watched it. I have a feeling the cover is deceptive, as everyone I know who has seen it has told me I’m definitely going to cry, and to make sure I have tissues at the ready.

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Octopath Traveler was one of the reasons I wanted a Nintendo Switch in the first place. I was really drawn in by the art style of the game, and I heard so many great things about it so when I got my Switch for Christmas, I was frantically searching for a decently priced copy. What is up with Nintendo game prices never dropping?! I eventually saw that a mutual on Instagram was selling their copy for a reasonable price, so I snapped it right up! I’ve not got round to playing it yet – RIP backlog – but I’m really happy to own it!

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These Witches Don’t Burn has been on my Amazon wishlist for a while, so as a payday treat I bought it for myself. I can’t even remember what drew me to it but I’m very much a book cover person, and I liked the art style of the images on the cover, so it’s probably that. I’ve not started it yet, so I can’t tell you what it’s about!

 

 

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A month can’t go by without me buying BL, and so I bought volume 2 of Candy Color Paradox. It’s a really enjoyable story, about a journalist who has to work with a photographer he doesn’t like. It’s somewhat predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless!

 

 

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Yet more manga, this time Go For It, Nakamura! This manga is about a high school boy, Nakamura, who is in love with one of his male classmates. It’s really cute, and Nakamura is such a funny character who just can’t seem to get it together to talk to his crush. I really recommend it if you’re looking for something funny!

 

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I played and enjoyed the first Ni No Kuni game when it was out on PS3, but I got stuck at a particular bit and then never went back to it. After falling completely in love with Ni No Kuni 2, I decided to get the remastered PS4 version of the first game, so I can go back and finally finish it!

 

 

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I also bought the final volume of Our Dreams at Dusk, a really lovely LGBTQ+ manga. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but I thoroughly recommed this manga, it’s really beautiful and well-done.

 

 

 

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Rounding off my March purchases with yet more manga, I bought the latest two volumes of Haikyu!! (though I’ve stupidly photographed them so you can barely see one, trust me, it’s there!). Haikyu! is my all-time favourite, so it’s nice to have an uptodate collection!

 

 

 

 

There’s not as much variety in items this month, and it seems like there’s a lot of books and games in comparison to January’s purchases, but I was holding off on buying anime merchandise because I was going to Japan. Unsurprisingly with the COVID-19 situation the way it is, we have very sadly had to cancel our trip. We’re both obviously devastated, but we will get to go another time. I had a little irrational spending spree to make myself feel better, which sort of worked, so March’s post will probably be quite lengthy!

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January purchases

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As part of my blog focus for 2020, I thought it would be fun to show y’all what I waste my money on each month! I’m talking the interesting, fun stuff I buy, not my everyday boring life necessities!

So, here’s a glance at what I bought this month!

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For Christmas, I was bought I Hear The Sunspot: Limit 1. What I hadn’t realised when I put it on my Amazon wishlist was that it was the third volume in the I Hear The Sunspot series, and I hadn’t got the second. Naturally, I then had to buy I Hear The Sunspot: Happiness, and once I had read those two, I had to buy I Hear The Sunspot: Limit 2, obviously. It’s no secret that I’m losing my hearing, and when I bought the very first copy of this manga, I’d just found that out which is probably why I Hear The Sunspot is special to me, with one of the main characters being hearing impaired, and a lot of focus on the hearing impaired and deaf community; it just came at the right time in my life, a time when it seems I myself might be in the same boat in a matter of time. The manga is so lovely, and quite bittersweet at times, and I can’t wait for the next volume to be released.

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At the same time, I also bought The Way of the Househusband vol. 1. I’d heard it was really funny, so I thought I’d give it a go, and I do really like it. It’s about a yakuza-turned-househusband, and the manga follows him as he navigates his new life with his normal wife. It is a really good manga, and it really made me laugh, so I’ll definitely continue to buy it.

Those who know me, and have the misfortune to follow me on Twitter, know one of my absolute favourite characters in anime is Shigaraki from My Hero Academia. My Shigaraki ita-bag is coming along really nicely, so I couldn’t resist buying this Shigaraki omanjuu to eventually put in there. Sticking on theme, I also got this Shigaraki figure, and the level of detail is insane. It’s easily one of the most detailed figures I own.

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I also bought these cute items from a friend who no longer had need of them. We have here a little Ponyo plushie, and a soot sprite, which has a sucker to fix to a window or mirror. There is also a strap of Phichit from Yuri On Ice! (which I can’t find at present due to moving rooms, boo!),who is one of my favourite characters in the series (and one that I’ve cosplayed previously!).

 

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I was very lucky at Christmas, and my parents bought me a Nintendo Switch, so this month I treated myself to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which was one of the games that made me want to get a Switch in the first place. To say I’m obsessed would be an understatement, any free time I have is funnelled straight into playing. I chose the Blue Lions for my first route, and I already have a few cosplay plans added!

 

Perhaps the most exciting thing I bought in January, or perhaps ever, was my dream holiday. In March, my best friend and I will be going to Japan! Excited doesn’t even begin to cover how I’m feeling, and the fact I don’t even have to wait that long is really putting the icing on the cake. At time of writing (because I’m obviously way behind with this post), it’s a little over 5 weeks until I go!

So, how did you like my first monthly purchases post? Let me know what your favourite thing in my small haul was!

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Unboxing: December YumeTwins

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Towards the end of last year, I had an idea that for 2020 I wanted to start using Culture Shack as more of a lifestyle type blog as well as an outlet for writing reviews. and other articles. This means I’ll be doing more posts showing days out, convention overviews, shopping hauls, and as this post shows, subscription box unboxings.

Of course, when I had this idea in about October last year I still had a job, and the original plan was to get a different subscription box each month, but then I decided in my infinite wisdom to quit my job without having something lined up so… we might have a gap between these types of post! (I do now have another job, so hopefully I can resume soon!).

The box for this month is YumeTwins, which describes itself as a ‘kawaii subscription box from Japan’, promising 5 high quality goods each month. When I signed up back in November, the box I bought was the Christmas themed box and like a fool, I underestimated how long it would take to get here. It arrived today, the 3rd January, so I guess at least I have it for next Christmas?

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When I had bought the box, the site had a pop-up which enabled me to spin a wheel and get a prize. Mine was for a free bag, but there were various things on there, like codes for money off the total. I thought this was a cool touch, it would be interesting to know the odds for each prize, but either way I’m not complaining!

So, what did I get in my box?

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First up, here’s my free bag – a Sumikkogurashi ice-cream drawstring bag! It’s really nice quality, and the perfect size to pop in my handbag. I wasn’t familiar with the characters, but they’re adorable so I’ll definitely be checking them out in future. What I really love about subscription boxes is when it introduces you to characters or brands that you don’t know, so this item has definitely ticked that box!

 

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I also got a super-cute Pompompurin Christmas spoon! The booklet that came with the box tells me that I could either have had Pompompurin or Cinnamoroll, so I got really lucky as Pompompurin is my favourite Sanrio character! It’s only really a Christmas item if you squint (there’s some holly on the handle), so I think I can get away with using it all year round!

 

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To go with my spoon, there’s a plate of Sanrio characters celebrating Christmas – absent friends are shown as decorations throughout the room, or can be seen out of the window, which is a really cute touch! I’m sad I didn’t get to use the plate for my Christmas snacks, but I have it ready to go for next Christmas now!

 

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The last of my Christmas themed items – a Sanrio blanket. This is the softest blanket I’ve ever touched, it’s almost velvetty but in a furry way. I’m sure there’s a specific name for the fabric, but whatever it is, I don’t know it! It’s not huge, about the width of my double bed, and about half as tall.

The box wasn’t all Christmas themed – I also got these Hello Kitty paper straws, and some Gudetama post-its and stickers. It’s great to have some functional items in there too!

My YumeTwins box was a success! I really liked all of the items I received, but it’s a shame I didn’t get the box before Christmas – I guess with international shipping, it can’t be helped.

 

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2019 Best Boys (and Girls)

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Whilst tracking my completed anime this year, I also kept a log of who my best boys (and sometimes girls) were in each series. Y’know… for science.

1. Zack – Angels of Death

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2. Ray – The Promised Neverland

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3. Miku – Quintessential Quintuplets

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4. Greedling – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

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5. Levi – Attack on Titan

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6. n/a – One Punch Man

7. Suzui – Kakeguruixx

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8. L’Arc – The Rising of the Shield Hero

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9. Mikorin – Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

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10. Kousei – Your Lie In April

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11. Ryouma – Love Stage

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12. Isshiki Satoshi – Food Wars!

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13. Hiro – Junjou Romantica

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14. Mafuyu – given

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15. B-Cell – Cells at Work

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16. Kyo – Fruits Basket

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17. Rampo-san and Akutagawa – Bungo Stray Dogs

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18. Kyouka – Bungo Stray Dogs

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19. Ayato – Diabolik Lovers AND Diabolik Lovers: More Blood

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