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When it comes to quality anime moments that I’ve encountered in Crunchy Roll my absolute top is the entire final episode of Eureka 7.
Long ago when I was asked to review Eureka 7 I didn’t really have much of a clue of what I was getting into. Of course I heard the show was amazing but I didn’t know why, while I was shielded from many of its spoilers I also was protected against any pre-conceptions of what made it a modern classic. Simply put, I only knew the show was good, that’s it. My deadline to watch and review the series was two weeks and I could not foresee myself polishing off fifty episodes and writing a quality review in such a short period of time.
Oh was I wrong, was I so dead wrong. The final episode was finished with seven days to spare thus giving me ample time to reflect on content of article. The reason why I was able to polish off Eureka 7 so quickly was because I found it utterly impossible to just watch just one or two episodes a day. As stated in my review, the most miraculous thing about the series was its pacing. Never did I find an episode to be considered “wasted” if the plot was being pushed forward then the show was doing other things like showing off its dynamic cast of characters or just tightening up the dramatic tension so that it can truly explode later on. As a memorized viewer I couldn’t stop myself from clicking on the next episode to watch, I had to see what happened to Renton, Eureka and the rest of the Gekko State and I became so engrossed in my viewing pleasure that I sometimes had days where the only details I can recall was me waking, eating, watching Eureka 7 then nodding off to bed.
All of this brings me to why I consider the final episode of Eureka 7 to be a fantastic moment. Four forty-nine episodes have been used to effectively build up the final climax. Much like what happens when you shake a soda bottle before you unscrew the top, the pressure that’s been store underneath the episodes surface is bound to be released in an explosive manner. In the end Eureka 7’s final episode serves as a reminder of why we’ve followed the show as long as we did as it shows us the ripping drama, intense character relationships and draw dropping mecha combat that we’ve grown to love.
In the end Eureka 7’s ending gives us what a good ending should have, a sense of closure. Just enough mysteries were revealed while at the same time new questions are left unanswered with their sole purpose of lingering on insider your head. As I watched the final credits I was left with a very satisfied smile on my face. I didn’t feel the need for a sequel to be made nor did I think the story needed to be continued. At that point I really felt like I had just seen the perfect ending.
Wagashi; beautifully sculpted Japanese confectionary made from natural ingredients are usually served with tea. Typical wagashi include a combination of ingredients such as azuki beans (red beans), glutinous rice and flour, kuri (chestnuts), kinako (ground sesame powder) etc.
As a devoted manga reader and anime lover just like you, I have seen an assortment of 2D wagashi introduced and being eaten! The most typical ones I have noticed include anko (red bean paste / sweet red bean jam), for example: dorayaki (pancakes sandwiched with anko; Doraemon’s number one favourite food), anman (steamed red bean buns; given to Chihiro from Rin in Spirited Away, shared by Chizuru and Tohru in Kimi ni Todoke) and most recently, ohagi.
Today I will be introducing ohagi. Traditionally eaten during the Autumn Equinox (a public holiday in Japan), an ohagi is basically a sticky rice ball covered in your choice of anko, kinako (soybean flour) or ground black sesame seeds. A similar and almost the same wagashi, named botamochi are eaten in the Spring Equinox.
Featured in episode eleven of xxxHolic (and yes, I do realise I am behind in anime), Watanuki prepares trays of ohagi for Yuuko, Maru and Moro as a thanksgiving gift for ochugen (a mid year holiday for giving gifts as gratitude for daily service). Although watching the zashiki warashi using her special spirit powers pulling out the whole ohagi from Doumeki’s stomach was slightly disturbing, it was how Watanuki put his effort into making them from scratch and the oishii comments that won me over.
Needless to say, prepared a batch of ohagi myself, and it is quite an exhausting effort! Time is consumed slowly simmering the red beans and moulding the steamed rice into perfect oval shaped balls (except mine all queered shaped!).
Hopefully you will temporarily stop reading manga and watching anime (which may be near impossible) and try this out :)
Anko (red bean paste / sweet red bean jam)
Makes approx. 400 grams
100 grams azuki beans (red beans)
100 grams sugar (add less if you don’t want them that sweet)
1. Overnight preparation: Weigh the correct amount of azuki beans. Wash under a strainer and soak in cold water overnight.
2. Before using, wash the azuki beans again. Place the azuki beans in a small saucepan and fill it up 3/4 of the way with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat, drain the water and replace with water.
3. Bring the water to a boil and reduce heat to a medium and simmer for 15 minutes. If the water just covers the azuki beans, add 1 cup of water.
4. Turn the heat to low and simmer until beans are soft (approx. 10-30 minutes).
5. Add the sugar and stir well. Turn the fire to high heat until nearly all the water has been evaporated (approx. 15-30 minutes). (There should be a layer of azuki beans and the liquid should be slightly thick.)
6. Start “squashing” the beans with a whisk or wooden spoon to form a paste. Turn off heat.
o If your paste looks too moist, return to the fire and stir constantly to avoid burning.
o The paste should be moist and soft to touch when warm. Chilling the paste, firms it.
o This recipe makes more than what you need for the next recipe, so halve it if you want, or reserve the paste in an air tight container in the fridge (lasts for 2-3 weeks).
*** Ohagi (stick rice ball covered in anko)
Makes around 9 mini ones
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup mochiko (white glutinous rice)
1/8 cup calrose (sushi) rice
3/4 cup cold water (190 ml)
A batch of anko (alternately, to save time, you can use packaged anko too)
1. Prepare the anko paste if you have decided to make it from scratch. If you are using packaged anko, then proceed.
2. Measure the correct amount of rice and wash and drain the water a few times.
3. Drain water and leave rice to dry for about half an hour. (Please watch one episode of anime.)
4. Transfer drained rice into a rice cooked bowl and add the water. Soak rice for another half hour. (Please go continue the next episode of anime you were watching.)
5. With the assistance of a rice cooker, steam the rice. When rice is ready, mix the rice so it loosens. Mash the rice gently.
6. Glutinous rice balls (see picture to right)
Preparation: a bowl of cold water, warm sticky rice, chopping board lined with waxed paper.
Wet your hands and roll out evenly sized rice balls and place them onto the chopping board. Repeat until you have no more rice.
7. adding and enclosing the azuki layer
Preparation: a bowl of cold water, sticky rice balls and chilled anko
Slightly wet the palm of your hand and spread anko on the circular part of your palm. Put the rice ball on top and gently squeeze your hand so the anko sticks to the sticky rice ball. If the anko is not enough to “close” the gap, add a bit more and roll it gently with both palms to ensure anko is evenly distributed. Repeat until all sticky rice balls are used up.
o If your paste is moist / or you do not want to get your hands dirty, spread an even layer of anko onto cling wrap and place the rice ball in the middle. Slowly wrap the anko around the rice ball and twist the sides tightly like a bon bon.
8. Enjoy eating your ohagi! :)
#1: Squid Girl receives 10,000 yen as thanks for finding a wallet lost in the sand. Having no idea about the value of money and with Nagisa accompanying her, she goes to the shopping district. Not knowing what to buy, she jets back and forth. In the end, she buys a ton of her beloved shrimp, but Sanae has been watching the two shop from the shadows...Find out what happens in the next 2 episodes!
Did you know that Hayao Miyazaki's first job was an in-between artist for a feature film called Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon, which was released in the US 1966. He ended up rewriting the ending of this movie, which would later earn him recognition throughout his early career.