I initially wrote an intro here, reflecting about my year. But as I wrote it, I found it made more sense to end the post on its note. So let’s get onto the list first:
- Silver Spoon (Bilibili). Absolute delight! This was on my to-watch list for sooo long and I’m so glad I was finally able to watch this on Bilibili. The pizza episode especially altered my brain chemistry in the same way that Haikyuu’s Summer Training Arc did. Definitely something that I am going to be rewatching time and time again from now on.
- Restaurant to Another World (Netflix). I had already rewatched this twice at this point. I honestly expected a lot more bewb-type fanservice but as you progress into the series, you can tell the focus gradually and clearly narrows into the food element more than anything else. This is definitely mine and my brother’s comfort anime to watch at times when we don’t know what to watch.
- Tsurune (Bilibili). I WATCHED THIS BECAUSE OF A TIKTOK EDIT. (This one specifically). And I’m so glad I did! I’ve wanted to watch more KyoAni series but honestly haven’t had the emotional strength to go through the recent Violet Evergarden films that are available on Netflix. I also decided to watch this after weeks of alternating between Mob Psycho, The Sandman and Heartbreak High (two of which I still haven’t finished) and Tsurune was able to offer that breath of fresh air.
- Bocchi the Rock (Bilibili). Definitely my favorite series of this year’s seasonal anime series! The humor is ON POINT and the animation is just so fun to watch. Every single scene, from Bocchi’s regular descent into either mental breakdown or maladaptive daydreaming to witnessing their performances, you can tell that the production staff really enjoyed doing this project (or at least I hope they did, as much as I enjoyed watching it.)
- Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Netflix). This was the first k-drama I watched from start to finish and it definitely sets the bar! I love how the format for each episode focusing on one case reminds me of Suits. I also love the overall compassion that is prevalent throughout the story and the show. Not to mention, the dynamic of a popular walking green flag and a socially awkward and easily misunderstood girl have always had a special place in my heart. It’s just a really heartwarming series.
- My Love Mix-Up (Netflix). This isn’t the first j-drama I have watched but it is the first in many years and the first BL drama I watched. It’s very cute and the chemistry of the entire cast, not just the two main leads, are such a delight to watch. Like literally, even the extras who portray the classmates. I will say though, Shunsuke Michieda who portrays Aoki definitely carried a lot of the energy and warmth for me.
- Bluey (Disney+). I WATCHED THIS SHOW BECAUSE OF THIS VIRAL TIKTOK AUDIO BUT I DID NOT EXPECT THE UTTER HEARTBREAK. And inner child validation, to be honest. I’ve not yet finished the entire three seasons available on Disney+ but I am getting there. Also the opening song just puts me in a better mood every single time.
- Abbott Elementary (Disney+). I literally only started watching this on the 23rd and I finished it by Christmas morning. It is SUCH a fun show. My favorite side character is definitely Mr Johnson, especially that last episode with him looking after the kids who didn’t get permission slips. I’m so happy Disney+ got this available for my region because I honestly did not want more than two streaming subscriptions at a time.
- The Sea Beast (Netflix). Ever since I saw Whale Rider as a kid, I’ve had this fantasy of riding a big sea creature across oceans. This film definitely gave me that, but it also gave me Flynn Rider and Kristoff’s love child. But seriously. The cinematography in this film was beautiful and the overarching theme of generational harm and hurt really hit home to me. Definitely a must watch.
- Knives Out (Netflix). I didn’t expect to deeply enjoy and fully love an all-star cast adaptation of what is essentially the Clue game. But alas I did. Everything about this movie was just so exciting and fun. As of writing, I haven’t watched the sequel yet but I definitely won’t finish the entire holiday break without watching it.
- Emma (Netflix). Ever since I started watching a bit more period dramas, I’ve realized that I much prefer something that has a little bit more contemporary feel to it. Films like Pride and Prejudice (2005) which I have mentioned in my 2020 Highlights and Bridgerton are something I can think of. They’re period dramas but still quite accessible. Emma is the same for me.
I didn’t read a lot of books this year (which we’ll talk below) so we’re having this temporary (probably) section instead since I really enjoyed some of the games I played this year and I want to highlight them.
- Blooming Panic (PC – Itch.io). This game made me realize that I do not like using Discord but I do like dating sims in Discord-esque format lolol. (Honestly, Mystic Messenger is who I’m pointing fingers for this. That game truly set the bar for dating sim for me. Too bad the game studio’s recent game wasn’t as interesting but I digress.) I love the video call feature for Blooming Panic because EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER’S VOICES MAKE ME MELT. Also their playlist on Spotify with the theme song and other original soundtrack used in the game is amazing.
- Saint Spell’s Love Guide (PC – Itch.io). I LOVE THIS GAME SO MUCH. The overall pink color palette is so pleasing to me and the art is just *chefs kiss*. One thing I will note though is that there are SO MANY different characters of different species and races for you to interact with and not all of them have romantic relationship as the character’s good ending which I think makes it all the more fun. So far, I’ve done three characters and I’m excited to do more. It also gives you Harry Potter-like magical school vibes. Please please please play it! It’s so good.
- There’s this Girl (App Store). This is probably one of my favorite narrative-based game this year. There’s very little interactive element to it so it really feels more like moving comics. Also, it is pretty short but the art is GORGEOUS and the music is IMMERSIVE. The fact the game creator made this based loosely from a personal experience explains why it has so much heart even with the short gameplay.
- A Short Hike (PC – Steam). I’ve seen this a lot on cozy game recs so I was thrilled to use the Steam Wallet I got for Christmas with this! The art is BEAUTIFUL, the music is just as gorgeous and the NPCs are all so interesting to interact with. The ending tugged my heartstrings a bit too.
- Promise Cinderella by Oreco Tachibana (Comikey). I’ve talked about this title here before in the Romance recs post a while back. It’s since been completed and has truly set itself as one of my all-time favorite romance series. It has everything I love about the classic shoujo titles of the late aughts.
- A Delinquent’s Life Hacks by Otsuji (MangaUp). This was one of my favorite slice of life series this year and it’s so bittersweet to see it finished. It’s hilarious and heartwarming, and it shouldn’t be surprising there are some really good practical hacks in there – it’s literally the premise and title. I also appreciate how the author didn’t make a big deal with introducing the LGBT characters. They’re just there and human and living their lives with empathy and compassion. It’s a really series. I’m so glad Square Enix launched their global manga platform, MangaUp!, this year and I was able to read it there.
- Pink Heart Jam by Shikke (futekiya). Easily became one of my top BL series of all time. I’ve always loved college coming-of-age stories because I personally relate to it more. I also appreciate the characters’ talking about sexuality and gender and what one expects from a romantic and/or sexual relationship because these are things that I only really looked into in my late teens/ young adulthood. Also, just the gradual realization of both Kanae and Haiga’s feelings for each other is so heartwarming.
- Can I buy your love from a Vending Machine? by Haruaki Yoshii (futekiya). I have already read this series from start to finish thrice since I featured it in my Romance recs post as well. IT’S JUST THAT GOOD. The whole fumbling around happening between the two main characters was really endearing to watch and the art is SO GORGEOUS. I’m so so excited to read the second volume, when it comes out.
- No Cat No Life by Rin Saito (Mangaplanet). Okay, here’s the thing. I love every single title I put in here. But if there’s any one single work that I want you to pick up and check out, it’s this one. This is my manga of the year. Zero doubt. It’s been a month since I read it, but the way my heart still aches when I think about this story–*chokes*. There’s so much heart and soul embedded into the story itself, which it certainly needed, and yet it was still able to keep itself pragmatic, especially when giving light to very real issues that are experienced in so many places in real life. And the themes of loneliness and grief? Please. Read it.
- Gabriela and the Inn Between (Podcast). I came across this on a Reddit post amidst an overnight cottagecore rabbit hole dive (one of many this year) and it’s so cozy and relaxing! I love the slice of life format and how each episode features one piece of work from a guest artist. One of which was a short story about ants that have forever altered my brain chemistry.
- Love in a Time of the Zombie Apocalypse (Ao3). Another work that seriously altered my brain chemistry. The biggest thing about this fic is that I don’t even like Harry Potter that much, even as a kid, much less ship Draco and Hermione. And yet here we are. Definitely put me in a whole emotional rollercoaster (and that’s saying something, considering I also tried a couple extreme rides this year). The tension between the two main characters is palpable, their chemistry hooks you in, the plot and the entire story structure is immaculate, AND THE MULTIPLE CHAPTER EPILOGUE? I was a heaping mess when I finished this fic. What a journey.
- Hold the Girl by Rina Sawayama (Album). I came across Rina’s music this year, via her song “Cherry”, and I have been a fan ever since! I loved her SAWAYAMA album but this one is even more special to me. The hyperpop tracks really deliver and it feels like a journey into womanhood. From healing one’s inner child to validating the inner teen’s rage and rebellion. I was lowkey disappointed none of the tracks reached the top half of my Spotify top 100 this year but also it makes sense, seeing how the album was released in September. You best know this will be on next year’s though.
Third year of this, and I have to admit, it’s become one of the things I’m looking forward to doing before the year ends. Not only am I able to review the stuff that I’ve consumed within the year but it’s also an opportunity for me to reflect on myself and what I’ve done and accomplished.
One of the things I talked about in last year’s highlights was my intention of being online a lot less. I honestly didn’t expect that I was able to do it this year and I didn’t even resort to deleting any of my social media accounts or apps. I settled into this new comfortable zone where I didn’t feel pressured to be online and present all the time. I post whenever now, not only in this here blog, so yay!!
For 2023, my intention is to sit down and think about consumption. Specifically, how I’d like my relationship with media consumption – and general consumption really – to go moving forward. (Which I know is quite ironic, considering this is a post talking about all the media I consumed this year haha.)
I’ve had these thoughts for a while but it really fully came into hyperfocus this year when I started my six-month hobby purchase ban in June. Don’t get me wrong though, I was glad I did the ban. I was able to save up for some big spendings I did this December and upcoming ones in a couple months. But the ban also really made me realize how much I unnecessarily relied on consumption for a lot of things and soothed a lot of frustrations through spending.
There’s not much else I can talk about as of now; I’m still in the process of simmering things through. (And also I have an unfinished draft from October talking about exactly this lol). But I hope to share it here once I get my head clearer on things.
I also think this has, quite unsurprisingly, directly affected my media consumption this year. Not to mention the reading slump I’ve had for most of the later months – which explains why there have been some slight changes to the above list and why there’s no book section this year.
Suffice to say, I am quite happy to finish off this year with a lot more ease and peace. I’m excited for what next year has in store for me and I hope to see you all once again at the end of it. <3 Here’s to 2023!