June Festivals in Brazil – Part I (Festa Junina)

June holds some major celebrations in Brazil like the “Festa de São João” (St. John the Baptist Festival) and the Folklore Festival of Parintins. I’m going to divided this article in two parts, one for each event. Here goes the part I:

The very creepy me in a typical “Festa Junina” outfit >:)

The “Festa de São João” also known as “Festa Junina” or “arraial” is a popular celebration held in different days of June (but officially on 24th) and incorporates many different cultural elements, but mostly references to the northeastern rural inhabitants of Brazil.

People traditionally wear country-style clothing like checkered shirts and dresses, straw hats, braids and freckles for girls and mustaches for boys. There are some typically related food like corn cakes and chowders, candy apples and Vatapá.

A typical

A typical “arraial” party, dancing the quadrille. Notice the typical colorful flags (Picture: Internet Archives)

There are also dances like the quadrille (with different variations) and typical ornamentation such as bonfires and colorful flags. People often use this theme for birthday parties in June. My sister (who was born on June 27th – Happy birthday to her, yay!) surely had one. It was her 1 year birthday and she was utterly cute… and well, my mother made me wear traditional outfit on that day too.

The bonfire is a very important item of the festival and it probably comes from the pagan celebration of the midsummer solstice, where bonfires were also lighten. During Middle Ages, little by little it became a tribute to St. John the Baptist.

Small versions of hot hair balloons (known as “Balões de São João”) were often used in the past. Nowadays, due to many accidents, they are being less used and becoming just a part of the decoration itself.

Hot air balloons (aka

Hot air balloons (aka “Balões de São João”) can be fire hazard, that’s why they are not being as used as before. Now they are simply part of the decoration. (Picture: Internet Archives)

There are similar celebrations in other parts of the world like Portugal for example, where it marks the begging of catholic festivals around the country. And Since Brazil was a Portugal colony, it inherited many of its cultural traditions, the “Festa Junina” was probably another one of them. But Brazil managed to incorporate its own traces into it making it a really fun celebration.

My ubber cute sister, the not-so-cute me (at her first birthday party) and my dog (Yeah, i know. It's hard to be a dog) wearing typical outfits. ;P

My ubber cute sister, the not-so-cute me (smaller pic) at her first birthday party. Aaaand my dog (Yeah, i know. It’s hard to be a dog) all wearing typical outfits. ;P


Part II (Folklore Festival of Parintins)

Adults Coloring Books

Coloring books for adults are trending a lot lately. They are claimed to be anti-stress, anti-anxiety and here in Brazil they’ve become a real fever. It’s really common to see people coloring “Secret Garden” or “Enchanted Forest” books on their break time and posting pictures of the “works of art” on their Facebook’s and Instagram’s pages (I have a teacher and a couple of friends that are seriously addicted to these books). It took me a while, however, to join the fad.

Truth is I haven’t found a coloring book that seemed interesting to me (I’d rather make my own drawings instead), until yesterday – We were at the mall and Felipe went buying some new “Funko Pop dolls” for his collection. In the meantime I went checking the coloring books section and ta-dah! I found this:

My Manga coloring book for adults and my coloring pencils case :)

My Manga coloring book for adults and my coloring pencils case 🙂

A manga version of those adult coloring books? I obviously needed to have it!

Felipe bought himself a copy too (he usually dislike coloring books but then again, it’s a manga one). It’s probably going to be really useful since next week I’ll have to endure an almost 14 hours trip to the USA (connections, indirect flights) and I’ll put the “anti-stress/anti-anxiety” features of the books to the test.

Other versions of the adults coloring books: Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest (Pic source: Internet Archives)

Other versions of the adults coloring books: Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest (Pic source: Internet Archives)

Anyway, I’m also thinking about making some video logs during my stay at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Some friends came up with the idea but I’m still not so sure if I’m going to (and if I do, I don’t know which language should I use), but stay tuned.

Book review: Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo

Grace Buchele Mineta’s (aka Texan in Tokyo) new comic book, Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo, is amazing! It’s even better than the first two (My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy and My Japanese Husband Still Thinks I’m Crazy, both also worth reading and available on Amazon.com).

All Texan in Tokyo’s comic books – They are all certainly worth reading!

Grace was born in the USA and after got married to a Japanese man (Ryosuke Mineta, “co-star” of her books) moved to Tokyo and has been living there for the past years. In a very fun and humorous way (with probably some of the cutest cartoons you’ll ever see), she describes her everyday life and the cultural differences between Japan and most Western countries. Differences that sometimes can be really shocking but mostly exciting and captivating.

Confessions of a Texan In Tokyo is one of those books you just can’t stop reading until it’s completely finished (and leaving you craving for more… much more). Weather you live in Japan or not you’ll certainly relate to Grace’s life and the world according to her. What are you waiting for start reading? 😉

[Guest Post] Anime review: Ergo Proxy

This week’s Guest Post was written by our contributor TuxEGP and it’s about an anime called Ergo Proxy. I hope you enjoy! 🙂


By TuxEGP

There is a great variety of anime out there. Some of them just pass by, leaving no message nor legacy at all. Some are made just for the purpose of entertaining (and they are very good at it) and there is a third kind – the ones that make you rethink about the world and your own beliefs while maintaining a great plot. Ergo Proxy enters in that third category.

11539773_464720767020962_1825270653_o

“EP” is a science-fiction, with cyber-punk and psychological elements story, produced by Manglobe studio and written by Dei Sato.

It is highly praised by its visuals and animations (one of the best of 2006), characterized by its darker tone and an amazing soundtrack, both of ambient noises and thriller/action musics composed by Yoshihiro Ike.

It’s heavily influenced by philosophical themes, such as Descartes’ Dream Argument (which states that we cannot know if this world is but a dream before waking up of it) and its Cogito, Ergo Sum (“I think, therefore I exist.”) phrase. The whole story could be summed up by saying it is a search for truth, truth about who you are, about the world you’re living, about the people around you and about the importance of your past. And those questions are answered… well, kind of.

The plot is set in the future, after an ecological disaster that made almost all humans in the world die and making the Earth itself unable to sustain life, becoming a toxic place falling apart with only a few signs of having already sustained life as we know it. The few reminiscent humans built domed cities, with high technology and sustainability, in order to survive until the planet recovers.

11667138_464720787020960_256037180_n

To help them, they create android-like machines called AutoReivs, the AutoReivs serve for many purposes, from domestic(those are called “Companion”) usage to military combat (know as “Entourages”), they are able to live peacefully and the world seems to have found peace again, and so life continues for a few thousands of years.

The story begins with Re-L (pronounced “Real”) Mayer, an inspector of the Citizen Intelligence Bureau of Romdeau City, charged to investigate along with her AutoReiv partner, Iggy. A series of murders committed apparently by AutoReivs infected with the Cogito virus (a virus that makes AutoReivs self-aware, thus becoming crazy and here comes part of Decartes’ philosophy. During the anime there are some infected AutoReivs and all of them act in a different manner, embracing or hating the curse of self-awareness).

During her investigations, she encounters with an unknown creature, that appears to affect AutoReivs around it. After finishing her work and going home, in the bathroom she finds out a message in the mirror and then she’s suddenly attacked by another monster that makes her faint.

While those events occur, a man called Vincent Law (who’s an immigrant from Mosk dome working for Romdeau’s AutoReiv Control Division), set up to hunt the infected AutoReivs appears to suffer from some kind of amnesia about everything he has done before coming to Romdeau. Later is also found he is related to the Proxies and the attack at Re-L’s house.

Everything past this point would be too much spoiler, but what I can add is: Re-L, Vincent and another character called Pino, (probably one of the most human characters you will ever see), go out on a journey. And although they may start in the same path, they also have different answers and outcomes. As the story goes, the plot becomes more entwined untill reaching its climax, where everything is revealed.

11664864_464720790354293_1955917776_o
The reason why I like it so much is because the story is so unique, the characters are very contrasting and it takes itself seriously (different from a lot of recent animes with so much comic reliefs, Ergo Proxy is surely one hell of a serious story, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its moments of fun) and it has a slow pace, so you can absorb everything properly.

It also has a lot of moments where the characters need to confront with their real selves and go through the process of accepting the fact that reality may be hurtful, but the truth is more important than any plastic-fake world. It’s cool because makes you think about your own world and who you think you are, making it stuck in your head even after finishing it.

Despite its lack of action, it has a high amount of suspense, filled with moments where your jaw will fall (for the good and the bad).

It also is full of references (like the name of some of the characters being names of real philosophers such as Kristeva, Derrida and Berkeley) or its ending music, Paranoid Android by Radiohead (a really cool band if I can say so). Its lyrics talk about what is like for a robot to gain self-awareness (like the ones in Ergo Proxy with the Cogito virus) and the fact that they disrespect the so called Laws of Robotics (created by Isaac Asimov), which states (among other things) that robots cannot attack humans. The opening music, Kiri by Monoral is pretty much about Vincent’s character as a whole, and is also very good.

One point I think should be considered is that it’s one of the few animes that have a REALLY good english dub. Seriously, the voices may sound to you even better than the originals (given the fact no character in Ergo Proxy has any trace of being Japanese or Chinese).

At least, the anime is heavily influenced by western culture, so much that it doesn’t hold almost anything of Japanese culture, making it a good shot to show to a friend that isn’t much into the weird (but cool) Japanese culture, a point I’d also like to show is that Re-L design was based upon Amy Lee, the vocalist of Evanescence in the cover of the album Fallen.

R-Le and Amy Lee

Re-L and Amy Lee from Evanescence’s Fallen album cover

Ergo Proxy, unfortunately, isn’t made for everyone. The plot requires a lot of attention and some may find its slow pace and lack of action boring, but it’s one of those shows where the result is always bigger than the sum of the pieces.

If you’re looking for an epic, something to make you think or simply a very complex story with great plot-twists, Ergo Proxy is the right one.

Anime Review: Kiseijuu (Parasyte, the maxim)

Kiseijuu (寄生獣 Parasyte, the maxim) is a manga series written and ilustrated by Hitoshi Iwaaki and published in Kodansha’s Afternoon magazine from 1988 to 1995.  It was adapted into an anime series (currently streamed by Crunchyroll) and two live action movies in 2014. And although I read a lot of manga, I’m not really into anime lately. But Kiseijuu is one big exception!

Kiseijuu (Parasyte, the maxim) characters poster

Kiseijuu (Parasyte, the maxim) characters poster

It’s probably one of the best anime series I’ve watched in years. Since I finished Death Note I felt a huge gap on anime I could trully enjoy. It’s not that good series were not released, it’s just that they didn’t get to me. Like I said here, I need to relate to what I’m watching somehow and lately no anime could fill this gap, until I watched Kiseijuu (which was actually introduced to me by Felipe).

Shinichi - One of the most breathtaking characters of all times!

Shinichi – One of the most breathtaking characters of all times!

The story is about a boy named Izumi Shinichi whose life suddenly changes when a mysterious outbreak starts and he gets “infected”. Under a horror science fiction background, Kiseijuu explores deep down some of the biggest life questionings like “who are we?” and “what are we here for?”.  As well as the relationship between human beings and others species on the planet and the human condition itself. The opening song “Let Me Hear” is amazing (despite its “Engrish“), the voice actors made an incredible job and the whole anime series is so high quality that you will certainly be mesmerized.

A little sketch of Migi, one of Kiseijuu characters I did during a Paraistology class. Yeah, I got inspired!

A little doodle I did during Parasitology class (Yeah, it got me inspired). It’s “Migi”, one of Kiseijuu’s (more charismatic) characters.

The award wining manga series is just as good. I haven’t watched the live action movies yet, but the teasers surely got me interested. So if you’re looking for a good plot, well-developed characters and an awesome art, I strongly recommend Kiseijuu for you. However, bear in mind that it can get a little too graphic sometimes.

(Kiseijuu’s live action Pt. 1 trailler)