Thursday, January 24, 2019

New Year, New Blog Resolution: Doing PhD in Japan, Year No. 1

Well hello there everyone!

Gosh, it's been about a years or so since I made my last post here on this blog. But I'm thinking I'll try to write down a blog or two every week from here on in. Maybe it'll take me somewhere new too, who knows? :D So I think I'll dedicate my first post to my first academic year in Tokyo. In this post I'm going to talk about my PhD journey so far, and a bit more about what's waiting for me in the upcoming two years (if I'm lucky heh).

Many people ask me why are you studying British literature in Japan out of all places. And yes, I do admit that it's not a very common course of actions, but you know, life leads you wherever it does, and in this case it wasn't much of a choice of mine, but rather a path that life made me walk. And I'm not complaining. Of course, I'd love to be in Cambridge or Oxford, but Keio University is one of the top in Japan, and when it comes to Mediaeval British lit we're a leading university in the whole world. I gotta admit this is pretty cool, and I realised how lucky I've gotten when we went to check out some rare manuscripts from 14th and 15th century.

But anyway, I'm not here to brag about how awesome my university is (even though it's quite a big deal :P). I had my entrance exams back in the end of February 2018, and got my reply on the 1st of March. At this point I had already met my future supervisor and was really hyped up about the whole thing. With positive results, I started to get ready to move to Tokyo. March of 2018 was one hell of a busy month, but somehow by the end of it I had managed to settle down in my apartment in Tokyo.

With April coming, the school year also started, and being in a very new environment, having almost no friends or acquaintances, it was a bit depressing at first, but with time things started looking up. School itself was very enjoyable from the very first day. Meeting new professors and students, new people in general was a very exciting experience.

The year was quite busy with researching new materials, trying to come back to English literature after a two-year-long gap, trying to be set up good terms with the people around me, and just figuring out the hell I want to do with my PhD.

By the end of the first semester I had figured out that I want to give a presentation, and luckily the chance came rolling around quite soon. From there on in, that is from about the beginning of August until pretty much the day before the presentation in mid-October, I was researching and preparing the speech. It was quite an interesting topic, a comparison between Pre-Raphaelite painting and A.C. Swinburne's poetry. Combining both of these maxims was not an easy feat, but a lot of people gave me good feedback, which was a great deal of a boost for my academic confidence. Either way, the paper will hopefully be published by the end of this year, and then I'll be able to quote myself in some of the upcoming posts :^)

I'll be honest, I haven't done much research ever since I finished the presentation, and instead have been concentrating on the schoolwork, reports and the books that I need or want to read. But probably it's thanks to this that I've managed to come up with more or less a doable and interesting topic for my thesis.

Either way, my spring break started up last week, and even though I still go to school, and probably will do so for the whole break (the library is my favourite place for reading and writing!), there are a couple of things that need to be accomplished by the end of the vacations:
  • Writing a paper to submit to a peer reviewed journal in the beginning of April;
  • Transform my presentation from October into a paper and hand it to another peer reviewed journal by July;
  • Come up with presentation topics for three conferences which will be taking place in the autumn of 2019, write down abstracts and maybe outline them;
  • Hopefully have a first draft for the first chapter of my thesis;
  • Read, read and read some more.
These are my main goals as of the moment, but chances are some other things will come up on the way. I still have two reports to finish by the end of the month, and honestly, I am not quite sure how to go about those :'D so wish me luck.

Anyhow, this post is getting a bit long, and I have some chores to take care of, so I'll get going for now! I hope to make this into a bit of a habit, and thus will try to write another blog when I have some free time during the weekend :3

Lastly, before I leave, I'll post a photo of my university, since I really like the campus, and hope you will do too!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Come my Nightingale or a little bit of nostalgia and how music can take us back in time (Sobbing in the middle of the night)

Well, after ignoring my blog for over a year and a half I think it's high time to start posting again. After moving to Japan in April 2016 and starting living all by myself in a country where I had no family, no friends, in a city where I knew nobody, a lot has happened. Sendai became my second home, I was lucky enough to be blessed with amazing friends, and people who are genuinely worried about me whenever something comes up. I have learnt a lot in this one year, gone through a lot, but.. this post is not going to be about my experiences or travels in Japan, my friends and our adventures, nor about all those things that I'd like to tell people about Japan. We'll get there at some point.

Right now I want to talk about those feelings of nostalgia that seem to hit me in waves of tsunami sometimes at the odd hours of the night.

I will be completely honest here, I'm not the most emotionally invested person in any sort of my relationships (except for my nephews and niece, they are my angels and my love for them is unconditional, period). This might have to do with all of the abandonment issues that seem to have become a large part of my existence. I had even started worrying if I am emotionally damaged, but it is at these moments of nostalgia that I realise how emotional I actually am. Okay, okay, I'm not going to bore you with the small talk, let's get right down to business.

Being an insomniac, it is extremely hard for me to fall asleep at proper hours, and I usually will need some sort of an external help to fall asleep, be it pills, long baths, or (my favourite) listening to special playlists I have taken years to construct and train myself to fall asleep when listening to. But as any normal person I grow tried of the songs I listen to every single fucking day. Tonight was the same. And believe me, when I mean grow tired, I am trying to say starting to feel sick from simply listening to the same song for the freakin' 1000th time.

It was at this moment that I remembered the lullaby my mother and grandmother would sing me. With the reluctance of a sleep-deprived, I grabbed my phone, went to youtube and searched for my favourite version, you can find it riiiight here.

In an instant, the image of my mother singing the song to me in the cramped bedroom/study where I spent my childhood came rushing to my eyes. The dim light flickering in the study part of the room, my father sitting in front of a Pentium II, that used to buzz in the background, the smell of the old books all over the place, me tucked up in my tiny makeshift bed hugging the dozens of plushies, and my mother petting my head, singing this exact song to me.

The image grows fainter as I write this, but at first I got a sudden rush of sensations which simply left me stunned, teared up, filled with an enormous amount of emotions that were choking me. I'm not even sure if I should be calling this nostalgia, but yet another time I came to realise that music does take you back to places and in time. The one little song made me miss every single thing about home, my family, my friends, my home, my school.

I'm going to copy the translated version of my favourite verses, just so you know what I'm blabbering about here:

NIGHTINGALE, oh, leave our garden,
Where soft dews the blossoms steep ;
With thy litanies melodious
Come and sing my son to sleep!
Nay, he sleeps not for thy chanting,
And his weeping hath not ceased.
Come not, nightingale ! My darling
Does not wish to be a priest.

Leave thy chase, brave-hearted falcon!
Haply he thy song would hear.
And the boy lay hushed, and slumbered,
With the war-notes in his ear.

The song is more than just a lullaby, it tells you the pain of my nation. It is an old song, over a century old now. But it is passed down in Armenian families like a token of hope.

Back when I was still in my beloved Yerevan, I would sing this same song to my tiny nephew and niece. I think that a part of me hopes that someday when they listen to this song in their twenties when they feel alone and are far away from family and home, the song will remind them of their pure and beautiful childhood.

But I guess this is enough of late-night delirium of the madman. I'll try to get over myself and finally go to sleep.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Kara no Kyoukai: Future Gospel - Extra Chorus / The Garden of Sinners (Anime Review)

Greetings everyone! It has been a while since I have posted my last anime review, but there were many reasons for my disappearance. If you have read my last post you might know that I travelled to Japan and that took most of my time. After returning I was busy with my work, social life and had literally no time to watch any anime at all. Well, life happened :P

Anyway, I had some free time on New Year's Eve so I decided, hell why not? Let's watch the last KnK movie. Most of you who probably already know me will surely remember that Kara no Kyoukai is my one and only, my special anime. It's like the pinnacle of perfection for me. I have watched several KnK movies more than once, some only once, my favourite is Paradox Spiral, but the rest are also 10/10 for me.

So anyway, I have many feelings for this show. When I went to a bookstore in Japan, the first thing I asked for was the light novels of Kara no Kyoukai and I bought them without even giving it a second thought!

But let's not talk too much about what I feel for the whole KnK franchise and return to the Future Gospel movie itself. You might be wondering, why me, a diehard fan of the series has watched the movie THREE YEARS AFTER ITS RELEASE!! Well I won't keep you wondering. Because it was precious to me...

When the last two movies were released I was overjoyed to a point I was jumping and chanting "yaaay". I watched the Future Gospel movie as soon as it was released, but didn't dare to touch Extra Chorus for over two years. It was the last thing to be released under the Kara no Kyoukai title and I didn't want it to be the end. I somehow managed to delay this end for two years but had to finally face it.
And here is what I think.

Kara no Kyoukai: Future Gospel - Extra Chorus

For starters, the thing that amazed me was that the movie ended with Shiki and Kokutou visiting a shrine for the New Years. I mean hell! I watched the movie on the New Years Eve! And this made it so much more special!

This movie was a bit different from the others, we got to see Shiki's and Kokutou's relationship revolve, and what I loved the most is that we got to see Shiki's cute side. And damn she was so cute I couldn't stop grinning! I mean look at her face! Look at her blush! ohmygwadsocwuute! >__<

Now, that we have already watched the Future Gospel movie, we know that Shiki and Kokutou will get married and birth an adorable little girl, this movie was just there to reaffirm their relationship and their feelings for one another.
I always thought of Shiki as some weird sort of Tsundere, She would never accept her feelings towards this guy, but in this movie she finally did. The movie also presented her as a person who is like a cat. I really liked the parallel that they drew :) S'adorable!

I liked how nostalgic this movie was. Presence of Fujino Asagami was the key factor to this. I admit, she was different from the second movie, but then again it was the same Fujino, furious, yet in some sense gentle, caring and *scary*. I loved the part she played in this movie, it contributed a lot to the whole atmosphere.

On another note, music was amazing as usual! Kudos to Kajiura Yuki-sama! Her music is gorgeous! And seriously, if you don't know her music go check out her Fiction and Fiction II, those albums are amazing!

They were able to keep the whole mood and atmosphere of the previous movies perfectly.
After watching this last movie I had no regrets for delaying it for whole two years. Thanks to this I was able to go through an amazing experience and I loved every single second of it!

But with this movie, my journey in the world of Kinoko Nasu Sensei ended for good. It was a great ride, and this movies will always have a special place in my heart.

With this I will end this review-like writing. I certainly rate it 10/10. If you're up for some dark modern fantasy thriller go ahead and watch the series, I assure you, you'll love all of the movies!

Thanks for reading my review and see you soon!

Friday, December 11, 2015

My First Trip to the Land of Rising Sun (日本国)! Sights in Kansai

As many of you might know I have been studying Japanese for over four years now. Since early childhood I have loved Japanese culture and wished to visit the country one day. I tried many things but unfortunately failed continuously.
However this autumn I finally got a chance to visit Japan and spend 10 days in this country with a very peculiar culture. In this post I am going to tell you about my trip, where we went and what we did, what we ate and whom we met. It's going to be a long ride, so bear with me :)


This trip is organised and financed by a NGO called アルメニア友会. At first we wrote essays, then had interviews, two us were picked and I was one of the lucky two! Finally the day came and we had a longass journey to Japan. The flight was exhausting.

We got to Osaka in the evening and were escorted to our hotel. It was already late but we decided to take a quick walk in the area and see what the district looks like. The first thing we did was going into a combini (convenience store) and bought onigiri. We walked around for a bit, and went back to the hotel.

Next morning one of the people who invited us took us to Nara (one of the oldest Japanese capitals). We visited a couple of shrines, both Buddhist and Shinto in Nara and Asuka (also a place of an ancient capital city). We also went to the place which I loved the most during this visit. I'm not going to talk about each and every shrine, but instead only those which I loved the most.

So my favourite place in Japan as of the moment is Kashiwara Jingu. The thing I loved the most about this place was how mysterious it was. We got there around dusk so there were almost no visitors. It was getting darker, and you could hear ravens cry around the whole place. You felt like there was something here, somebody here. I can't really explain the feeling all that well.

The other thing I liked about this place was being shown around by the priest (kannushi-san). Apparently the place was going through renovations and for the first time in 125 years people were given the opportunity to enter to the main hall of the shrine! Talk about lucky! We received some omamori (talismans), so that was also bloody nice of them.

We also met a very cute kid who was celebrating her shichigosan (coming of age thingy).

Since this was a homestay trip we spent the next 2 days with a really really extremely nice family. The mother of the family, Kyouko-san was so kind to make Japanese traditional food served only on New Year (Osechi). It was very goddamn delicious. On the next day we had Japanese traditional breakfast with miso soup and rice.

Our first stop was Tatsutagawa (river Tatsuta) which is a place mentioned  by Ariwara no Narihira in his tanka which is a part of Hyakunin Issu. The morning sun was shining, the red leaves were fluttering. It was a place straight out from Japanese poem written around 1000 years ago! Go Heian Jidai! Then we went to the park of Nara city (Nara kouen). This place was amazing. It was filled with deers who were free to walk wherever they wanted. People could feed and pet them. Inside the park however, there was the statue of Great Buddha, the largest one in Japan, mind you. It was filled with many Japanese school-kids on their middle/high school trips, as well as Chinese tourists (they were everywhere!).

We visited a couple of more temples on our way and took a walk in the old Nara city.


On the next day we left Nara and went back to Osaka. On that day we went to Bampaku Kinen Kouen. It was a beautiful place with lots of trees that had turned red and golden. Later on that day we went to Onsen (hot springs) and ate Sukiyaki! It was definitely a day spent well. The family who took us in was very nice. We talked about many different things and had a laugh. They were glad we enjoyed the food, we were glad they enjoyed our company and Armenian cognac.

It is also worth mentioning that Sukiyaki we ate was made in Kansai style, so it was different from what we usually see in anime! However, it was delicious!


The following day started off with a bit disappointingly. We were planning to go see the Himeji castle. We took a train and after spending more than an hour on the way it turned out that we would have to wait over two hours to be able to enter the castle! And with the flow of the people god knows how many more it would take us to actually look around and get out! Such a pity...

So we went to see the ocean. We stopped under the Akashi Kaikyou Bridge I have seen sea before, but it was a first for me standing in front of the ocean. The difference was colossal. The colour of the water was much deeper, the air smelled differently, I could feel the distracting power the peaceful waters held. It was beautiful yet terrifying.

The lady who took us there treated us home-made onigiri. Sitting in front of the ocean, eating delicious food, this cured our disappointment.

After we got back to Osaka we got some free time and went to the centre of the city. We went to some shopping malls. To be honest the service was top-notch. But after listening to "irasshaimase", "arigatou gozaimashita" and other similar phrases every second for about an hour it started annoying both my friend and me. The extreme costumer service can be irritable, so it seems. Nonetheless, this was an interesting experience in it's own way.

Our dinner for that day was curry rice! We went to CoCo ICHIBANYA curry house and had an amazing meal. Afterwards we went back home tired as hell and fell asleep immediately.

On the next day we were headed to Kyoto! The old capital, the city I read about so much in my books about Sengoku Jidai and some earlier eras. First place we visited was Fushimi Inari Taisha. To be honest though, I wish I'll get another chance to visit this place during a season when the place is not overflowed by Chinese. I think one needs to spend a whole day in this place. It is mysterious, it has many turns and each and every one of them are worth taking. However, we didn't have much time, only two hours, so we didn't get to see all of Fushimi Inari. I still think it's a pity.

Our next stop was the house of the person who invited us. His wife and the other members of tomokai have prepared traditional Japanese dinner for us. We also, prepared some traditional Armenian dishes for them. We had a great evening. Exchanged some gifts. In short, we fell in love with the people who invited us and I'm pretty sure they felt the same way about us :)

And lastly, we were taken to our hostel, where we were to spend three nights. This was our second disappointment, however. For the first time in our lives we were under a curfew! At 10 pm! In one of the most interesting cities in the world Kyoto! If that wasn't enough we were told to sleep at 11 pm, not to talk and make any noise, not to eat or drink in our room... well this was hell of annoying, bloody irritating, but what could we do? Nothing really. We went to sleep tired and angry.



On the next two days we were free, so we decided to go to the places we chose ourselves. Most of those places didn't let us take pictures inside but they were amazing no matter what. We went to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, Sanjuusangendou, Kyoto tower, Ginkakuji, Kinkakuji, Ryuuanji, Eiga Mura, Kiyomizudera. All of these places were amazing, they had a special feeling about them, and I do not know any words that can express those feelings. Here are some photos:



Kitano Tenmanguu

Eiga Mura

The night view from Kyoto Tower


So anyway, we went back to Osaka after spending 3 days in Kyoto. We had one more day in Osaka, which we spent shopping for some souvenirs, some Japanese sweets and food and so on. In the evening we went to an Izakaya where we had an amazing dinner with our hosts. The next day we packed our things, ate home-made okonomiyaki and left for the airport. And with this our trip to Japan came to an end.

10 days was a short period by all means. But then again the dream of my childhood came true and that's what matter right? :) If you ever go to Japan make sure to spend as much time as you can in different cities, explore every bit of them, the culture is rich and has no boundaries!

Thanks for reading this lengthy post, I'll end it here :D Have a good day and see you soon!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Code Geass: Lelouch of Rebellion (Anime Review)

A couple of years ago I watched the first season of Code Geass. Then the ending got spoiled for me and I never watched the second season. And finally I made up my mind,  rewatched the first season and watched the second one in one go. This is an anime that made to my top 3 in an instant, and Lelouch is the character who became my top favourite male character in a second. I have so much to say about this anime I don't know where to start. So bear with me till we reach the end. Also, SPOILER ALERT!!

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Code Geass is not an ordinary anime, not your generic school life+mecha mix. It's not a simple story spiced up with cool fights, no. This is a story that portrays the real life, the human nature, the struggle for creating a better tomorrow.

The anime starts with Lelouch getting mysterious powers from C.C. called Geass. This powers allow him to make people bend to his will and do whatever he commands. We also find out that Lelouch is the Prince of Britannia and is considered to be dead together with his younger sister Nunnally. Lelouch is now using the name Lamperouge to stay undercover. He wants to avenge the death of his mother Lady Marianne and his sister's and his "exile". The object of his revenge is his father Charles vi Britannia.

Lelouch also wants to create a better world for his sister, because she is a frail girl who has suffered a lot after their mother's death. She lost her sight, and is unable to walk.

Well let's get closer to the point and skip all the plot details. I want to talk more about the characters, and say whom I love, whom I don't and why.

For starters let's talk about females.

My favourite female character is probably Euphemia. I like her because she is an honest girl, she is brave, she can't accept the inequality between the Britannians and the "numbers". I respect that a lot. Also, when she finds out that Zero is Lelouch, her beloved brother whom she thought dead, she tries to do something to create a world where both Zero and his Black Knights and Britannians can live together without any problems, a world where Japanese people will be called Japanese and not "elevens". She is a determined character, she is also very kind. The fact that she struggles till the very end hurt me quite a bit. I cried like a little bitch when watching her die first time, and I teared up a lot while watching it second time.

Shirley, another favourite. A Britannian girl who is in love with Lelouch, who accidentally finds out that Lelouch is Zero, gets her memories erased by Lelouch and finally falls back in love with him. The thing that I love about this girl is the fact that she cares for Lelouch more than probably any other character in the whole show. She regains her memories, remembers that Zero is to be blamed for her father's death, but when she realises that Lelouch is all alone, that he has nobody there for him, she, a simple school girl, who has no special powers, who is weak, who can't control a giant Kinghtmare, SHE takes a gun and goes into the danger to save her Lulu. This is what kills her, but then again, she is an amazing character, with a lot of devotion, and a lot to learn from.

C.C. is another character which I liked at first, but couldn't grow to love. I was more interested in her backstory, but it didn't turn out to be as interesting as I was expecting it. It was rather disappointing. Her Geass was not special, her human personality wasn't special, she was bored from the world as C.C.. There isn't much to say. She was mostly a spectator, she was there for Lelouch at times, but not always, which is sad. Then again, she was an entertaining character.

Nunnally, oh Nunnally. Such a disappointment. I won't talk much about this character, since I don't really like her. At first she was a sweet girl and all, but she never got to understand her brother, she also became the reason for Lelouch's disappointment with the world. He did so much for her. He did everything for her, she was his raison d'etre, and she became the reason for his demise. Her eyes finally started to see the world, but her heart closed up. Until the very last moment when she finally realised that all of this her brother did just for the sake of her, to create a better world for her.

Kallen. Well at first I liked her, but near the end this character started to irritate me. I hated how she disregarded her mother, until she realised what was the reason she stayed at her father's house. I also admired her devotion to Zero, and her feelings and love for Zero/Lulu. But hey... When the end came, she was one of the people who turned their back on Zero, even though they all got where they got thanks to Zero. They were all just pieces of shit, who'd never even survive the fights in Shinjuku region, they got a chance to create an independent country thanks to Zero, and they all forgot it in one fucking second. Sigh.. It also really saddened me that the one fighting for Lulu in the last epic fight was Suzaku and not Kallen. At that moment I cast her away. If you are devoted to someone, and believe in their ideals then be next to them until the very end no matter the freaking reason. Peace out.

The rest of female characters are really minor and I don't like them enough to dim them worthy of writing about. :P

Let's talk about males now.

Suzaku. I hate Suzaku with passion. This is a character I don't want to accept, forgive or consider a hero by no fucking means. He is a pissface, and I cannot comprehend people who say Suzaku is their favourite character, and that he was trying to gain peace in his own way. Well, listen here. He killed his dad because he was afraid there would be wars and all, but that didn't stop the rebellion. He was trying to justify his shitty behaviour by calling it a desire to change Britannia from within. So silly, so stupid. This is the character I hate the most in the whole anime. Normally I either love a character or I'm indifferent to them. Sadly it wasn't the case with Suzaku. It really hurt me how he didn't even bail, or blink an eye when making the decision to kill Lelouch.

Jeremiah Gottwald. Now this is an extremely interesting character. At first I thought him to be a bit annoying, but in the end he was one of those rare people who understood Lelouch's goal and supported him with all they had, just like Shirley did. He was loyal till the very end, and that's what I admire, loyalty. I also loved his backstory. I was really cool that he used to serve lady Marianne. Anyway, an amazing character, kudos to creators. Oh and my favourite bit was seeing Jeremiah working in an ORANGE farm at the end of season two. QQ

Rolo, Lelouch's fake brother. Also a very interesting character. Also a loyal character, but unlike Jeremiah who was purely loyal because Lelouch amongst other things was his master, Rolo was loyal to Lulu because he could see the great leader in him, because he could see that Lelouch will finally bring peace and end the sufferings all over the world. He appreciated and admired Lelouch so much, he considered him such an important person for himself and the world that he didn't even hesitate to sacrifice his life for the sake of Lelouch's success. A well-built character, with lots of developments.

Lelouch vi Britannia. Finally! I left him for the end, because there is just so much to say, I feel like words are not going to suffice. Lelouch/Zero has become my favourite character of all time.
Lelouch, a boy who was abandoned by his father, who lost his mother, and whose sister became unable to see or walk. And finally when he gets the mysterious power of Geass he decides to take revenge against Britannia and his father for the sake of his only sister Nunnally, so that they finally can leave in peace without being afraid of being spotted and then killed. He fully realises that this is going to be a tough ride, and that he can't go forward and further ahead without getting his hands messed up in blood. He has to kill, he has to order people to kill. But he manages somehow to gain a lot of things.
I think that Lelouch is a tragic character, and yet a hero. His tragedy is simple: people didn't understand him, people betrayed him. PEOPLE. He trusted those who surrounded him, and yet they couldn't find in themselves to follow his lead.
For me Nunnally's betrayal is the most painful one, but it is essential to realise that this one thing made Lelouch open his eyes, and see that the world is full of many people who deserve a better life, that the world needs liberation from the rule of Britannian Empire. He sacrificed his life for the sake of this.
At the very end we see C.C. talking with Lelouch, and even though I want to believe that he is alive and well, I choose to think that Lelouch died. He was too tired of this world, and he decided to throw away his life and by that give a new chance to everyone for a better life, for a better future.

And even though that future won't last forever, because people are greedy and treacherous beings, what Lelouch did was a step to a brighter life. He is forever my hero...

I rate this anime 10/10 because it can't be otherwise. It's by no means overrated, it's not just another anime. The plot is deep, and serious, it makes you think. This is what's important about a story.

Gosh, it took me over a month to write this review, and there are still so many things I want to say, but I simply cannot find the words to express those thoughts and feelings. I'll just end this here or else it will take me another one month to publish the post.

Hope you enjoyed the read~
If you haven't watched Code Geass well you have to :P
See you soon~