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Manga Review: Love So Life Chapters 21-30

Year: 2008 – 2015
Status: chapters 21 – 30 of completed manga series
Author + Artist: Kaede Kochi
Version: XscansX (English scanlation)
Love So Life Online: Wikipedia, MyAnimeList, MangaFox, Kissmanga
Genre: Shōjo, Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

Another week has passed and I feel like I am slowly getting on top of the schedule again. This week, I discuss the next ten chapters of the manga Love So Life. This week’s group of chapters
Next, Shiharu’s class lists are made available for the next year and she learns from Rio that they will be in the same class again… but they are also in the same class as that bitchy girl Tagami again. She’s the girl that caused them both issues during the last ten chapters. During a class exercise, Tagami rejects Shiharu’s offer for her to join her own group with Rio. We begin to learn more about why Tagami is so ill-tempered. After Tagami is rude to Shiharu after our heroine stops her from accidentally falling to her death, Rio does the dramatic slap to bring Tagami to her senses and receives a stern lecture.

In this week’s chapters, we learn more about Nao Hayami, the ill-tempered young man that has been at the children’s home for eight years and has a romantic attachment Shiharu that she mistakenly views as a familial attachment. We also see Seiji attempt to give Shiharu a gift for White Day and she becomes even more attached to him.
The class lists for the next year of school are made public, with Rio and Shiharu thankful that they will be in the same class again. They are also in the same class as that bitchy girl Tagami again, the girl that bullied them in a previous chapter. No longer in the same class as her two minions, she is now completely alone. In spite of numerous offers of friendship from Shiharu, she continues to be bitchy. However, we begin to learn more about her through flashbacks. After Shiharu saves Tagami from falling to her death during a school trip, Rio slaps an ungrateful Tagami and gives her a kick ass lecture.
After learning of Shiharu’s first birthday (her actual birthday rather than a day celebrating her arrival at the home) in a previous chapter, Seiji attempts to give Shiharu a real birthday. In lieu of the fast approaching birthday of the twins, Seiji calls his mother, Risa Matsunaga. We learn a little bit more about Seiji’s family life. Rio and Takeru take a liking to each other after an outing with Shiharu, the twins and Takeru’s little sister Mana.
Seiji is traumatised after the twins become obsessed with DVDs and Shiharu has to explain what a kiss is after the twins see a couple giving each other a smooch on the cheek. Shinobu Oikawa drops into Seiji’s place and assists Shiharu in answering a question about Strawberries by visiting a strawberry farm. Shinobu sees it as a chance to mess with Seiji and Shiharu becomes suspicious of his motives. We also learn that he is a beautician.
In the thirtieth chapter, Takeru offers to cut Aoi’s hair but is dramatically stopped by his other sister Nanami. As expected, she too has low expectations for her whimsical yet adorable brother. It also turns out that she is a little violent as well and can hold a grudge for years.

We see a bit more character development this week, with possible competitors to Shiharu’s affections, especially Nao. The story is also beginning to get a bit of a Reverse Harem vibe to it as a result, but nothing that is likely to hurt the overall flow or themes of the series itself. We are still aware of Shiharu’s growing affectations towards Seiji and vice versa, but the two seem oblivious to what the other feels about them because it isn’t exactly something that Seiji wants to bring up in normal conversation. Although the story portrays him as being career-motivated, he also cares about what pursuing Shiharu would mean for her future as well and he doesn’t want to destroy his existing relationship with her. There is still the feeling that status and age will be an ongoing barrier for some time, but it also feels like the dam is likely to break sometime in the more immediate future. After all, Shiharu is beginning to identify a growing attachment to Seiji even if she doesn’t realise that it is amorous in nature.
This manga has become the focus of my manga-reading of late in spite of me also wanting to get stuck into some other series as well. Leading up to the halfway mark of this completed series, Love So Life shows so many of the positive traits that seem lacking in a lot of modern Shōjo Romance series. It develops a relationship between two people that genuinely offer something meaningful to each other rather than relying on a lust component. Why is this important? Whilst sex does offer immediate gratification, it strikes me as something that doesn’t offer much in the way of longevity for a series. This is why developing characters and relationships within a story are essential for making it work in the long term. Whilst I know that there is a time limit for Love So Life, I am still excited for what remains for the story because I have quickly grown attached to the growing cast of characters. Each one has contributed something meaningful to the storyline so far, making this series a pleasure to read.

So yes, I will be continuing this series until it concludes and I recommend that you guys take time out to read at least a few chapters if you haven’t done so already. If you have any other series that you are reading, feel free to share your thoughts.


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World of Keiko 01/16/2017

Another week has passed, one where I finally pulled myself out of a backlog of posts. I am feeling a lot better now than what I was feeling like last Thursday, and I hope that there isn’t a repeat of my slackness anytime soon as I am trying to develop goods habits this year rather than how things have been in the past few years. It is so easy to fall back into bad habits, something that many of us have to deal with on a daily basis. For me, I stopped blogging for months at a time and my productivity suffered for it because I had given up trying to develop critical thinking and evaluation skills, especially when it comes to storytelling. Heck, I didn’t add anything to my fiction projects for an embarrassingly long time either. As for health and fitness… I still haven’t got back to exercising.

What goals are you currently working on? Why have you decided to focus on these goals?

Here’s the big question: Why change something? Sometimes we are at a stage in our life where we are stagnating, the world becoming a lot less enjoyable as a result. Sure, change can also be bad but we have to also develop those skills to adapt and prosper by living life moving towards tangible goals. This is where the classic concepts of S.W.O.T. and S.M.A.R.T. come in handy. A few of you might be familiar with these acronyms from the business and/or self-help fields. S.W.O.T. is a four quadrant chart for defining Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. S.M.A.R.T. is slightly different in that it tends towards with a specific goal by evaluating if it is Specific, Measurable, Agreed (by the relevant parties), Realistic and Time-bound. As a side, there are numerous concepts that also use this acronym, even in business.
Even if you don’t use a graphical or textual model for evaluating whether working on a specific goal or larger project will be worth putting in the time and effort, the specific components of both methods can spark at least some mild consideration of the problem at hand. That being said, we can also get so bogged down thinking about the pros and cons of something that we never make a decision at all. All of that “thinking” is energy would have been best spent working on something else instead or reading a good book about Penguins. In some cases, it could be argued that a person might be making excuses not to do something because they don’t want to do whatever that thing is. If you don’t want to do it, at least be honest with yourself and try to understand why.
For me, change means to improve and to be better at something than when I started. It is that grand idea that one should strive towards mastery even when it may not necessarily be achievable. It is also that want to earn respect rather than expect it without doing something that deserves it.

What does change mean to you?

To the writing front, I have been doing more thinking about Freak, that thing that I have been working on and off for the past four months. Some twists and turns have led to yet another change that will have a dire effect on the Freak series as well as one of the side series but should offer a bit more room for storytelling. The change makes sense, but there might be a bit more tweaking before the month is over. I seriously need to deal with the associated wiki as well.
Anyway, I tried to use Reedsy for drafting something yesterday and came across some hiccups. Whilst working on a chapter, the cursor randomly moved around, specific pieces of text could not be interacted with, and on one occasion a large piece of text was randomly copied and pasted without my prompting. It was a really odd experience, something that I was not dealing with a few months back when I last did seriously writing using the book writing platform. I am beginning to think that it might be worth going back to offline word processor writing and then copy it over to a Reedsy project when I am done. Here’s hoping that the book editor feature at Reedsy gets fixed soon so that I don’t necessarily need to do the copy and paste thing.

What writing projects are you currently working on, whether it be fiction or non-fiction? Is there something in particular that inspired you to work on the project?

To the home front, hubby and I did a lot of yard work last week. In spite of this, there is still a lot more to do to clean up the mess in the two lots. During the second day of yard work, we had to deal with meter-tall grass surrounding one of the septic tanks. The problem was that hundreds of Rhino Beetles were busy making sweet-sweet-love in the tree overhead. The tree is located behind the fence and some of its branches have grown long enough to droop low into our yard, making it easy to bump them during mowing. Even light touches on the branches caused some of the suckers to drop down and it quickly became an issue of safety. After all, it is the rare person that wants a pissed off insect like a Rhino Beetle landing on their back hissing and attacking them. I have never been attacked by one but I hear that a wound from one can be rather nasty.
As for the loungeroom, hubby and I still haven’t rearranged the room. This isn’t unsurprising given that he worked most of the last week and got several callouts. Still, I want to have my own expanded workspace. I am really looking forward to having separate screens for my everyday activities. What would really suck is if once we have everything arranged, the extra monitor doesn’t work at all… That would crush my fragile wittle spirit… until we purchase a cheap one to replace it. If we smoked or drank, we’d have trouble affording such things. However, I cringe every single time that we have a power outage as it takes a toll on our electronics.

Before I go, an anime blogger that allow follows this blog has recently started a Patreon page to cover some of the costs of her anime addiction. Karandi posts regular anime-related content over at 100 Word Anime, and I recommend that folks check out her blog if they haven’t already done so. You can find the blog here. If you like what you see visit her patreon here.

That is it for this week. A big shoutout to some of my new followers, such as yoyoyoshioka, Dominic Cuthbert, Kan-San, Misstiphanie and Sora-Jin before I go. I hope that future posts will be worthy of you and the numerous other followers of this blog hitting that follow button. In any case, I leave you guys with the following video clip of Liv Margaret’s song Spinning:


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Sunday Playlist 01/15/2017

The theme for this week’s playlist is Time & Space, a mix of ten instrumental and electronic tracks. I’ve tried to offer plenty of variety on this one and hope that my choices do a good job of representing the theme, the idea of progression and how humans often view their lives in terms of when and where they are.
  1. The journey of Feather by Ancelin from The Journey of a Feather
  2. A.S.T.R.I.D. Part 2 by Chronique from Lost Horizon
  3. Doves by Danish Daycare from A Story of Hurt (2010 Edition)
  4. Somewhere Between by Deflate from Hibernate
  5. Qualms of Conscience by Diablo Swing Orchestra from The Butcher’s Ballroom
  6. Waves from StudyBreak from Say Goodbye Now
  7. Shades of Past by Ocean Jet from Vengeance
  8. Lullaby by The Nuri from Music Box
  9. The Blue Star by Greg Baumont from Wood
  10. We Come Together by LukHash from Digital Memories

The past and future often have such a grip on us that we cannot focus on the present. Are we so trapped by our past mistakes that we aren’t able to move forward? Are we so obsessed with the future that we forget about the loved ones and the world currently around us? Can we find value in where we are at this present moment?

A clock with a 24-hour dial.

A clock with a 24-hour dial. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for the where, we often view the value of something or someone in terms of where they are. This often treats other qualities such as kindness, compassion, work ethic, what they are contributing to the world around them, as being less important than the big house and the fancy car. The question is: What do you value more?

You can find the playlist here.


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Music Review: EP by Allie Farris

Year: 2014
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Easy Listening, Piano, Soft Pop,
Similar Artists: Norah Jones, Sara Bareilles, Mindy Gleadhill, Allie Moss, Melanie Ungar, Juice Newton, Patty Loveless
Online: Official Website, Bandcamp, iTunesJamendo, Reverbnation, SoundcloudYoutubeFacebook, Twitter
Tracks:

  1. Talk to Me
  2. I’m a Mess
  3. Better Than Never
  4. Simple Mind
  5. Other Side
  6. Love Won’t Let You Down

For the time in nearly a week, I have finally clawed my way out from a backlog of posts. Yes, I admit that it is a self-created problem, to which I apologise. In any case, I am pretty happy to be posting a music review for this week’s artist.
This week’s music review features another artist that I discovered on one of the Jamendo playlists. Allie Farris is a singer-songwriter from the USA that produces some rather lovely easy listening pop with a country edge. Allie is likely the person playing the piano throughout the album.

Allie Farris’ EP release brings together six beautifully written, performed and engineered songs. For me, each song hits the right emotional qualities that one would hope for in well-written ballads, a testament to Allie Farris’ gift as a singer-songwriter. It is one of those gems that I believe that each person with an appreciation for singer-writing should listen to at least once and dissect because it is extremely well-crafted music.
The songs themselves tend to be slightly slower, moving towards more ballad territory, but seem to also have that element of hope that comes with love. In the case of the second song, I’m A Mess, I was struck by something quite odd. Then it hit me – she was totally channelling Juice Newton with that track, specifically Queen of Hearts. That is not a bad thing either, giving further evidence of her love for music from 70’s. As a person that had Queen of Hearts on nearly perpetual repeat in my household as a kid, it made me smile. After all, good music is memorable. In Newton’s case, the film clips were also quite funny. But I digress…
As I mentioned before, the album consists of easy listening piano pop with a country edge. However, the country elements are slight enough to not have the tracks fall into that genre. This is one of the better finds on Jamendo over the last year and I look forward to listening to more of her music in future.

Conclusion: Allie Farris’ music is a must listen for anyone looking for some easy listening love songs that they can sit and listen to. If you do listen to this album, consider sharing your thoughts with others because word of mouth is one of the major ways to show your appreciation for artists that have spent large periods of time creating their works of music, art and storytelling. In any case, hurry up and just listen to the album already. Seriously, why are you reading this post and not listening to this album now? 😀

My next review will be on another artist that I discovered on Jamendo recently, The Gray Havens. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you on the album, but folks should feel free to get a jump on it by heading over to Jamendo and giving the album “Where Eyes Don’t Go” a listen.


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Anime Review: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Year: 2014
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun Online: Wikipedia, MyAnimeList, CrunchyrollHulu,
Genre: Shōjo + Comedy + Romance + School Life + Gender Bender

Over the past year, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (aka Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun) has been subject to a host of meme creations. After seeing one of them, my curiosity was peaked and I decided to look into this series. After reading the synopsis, I decided to put this series on my watchlist. Well, the time has come to discuss a rather odd series, which began as a webcomic.

This series begins with Chiyo Sakura attempting to confess to long-time crush Utemaro Nozaki, but ends up choking miserably. Based on a misunderstanding by what can be described as one of the most oblivious, obsessive, yet oddly endearing characters, Chiyo starts helping him out with inking his popular Shōjo manga creations under the pen name of Sakiko Yumeno. Enter the weird world of Nozaki, idiot manga writer and artist!

To begin with, this series begins with a common premise for Shōjo, the confession. In Chiyo’s case, her anxiety caused the misunderstanding in the first place, but from a story point of view, it opened up the chance for learning more about Nozaki. Some of you will notice the genres that I listed this series under. Whilst I usually find manga and anime the begin with the confession thing listed under “Romantic Comedy”, this series tended to focus more on comedy because it is, for the most part, a parody. As I watched it, it reminded me series such as Ouran High School Host Club and Gintama with the rampant social commentary on Shōjo manga. The story is made odder in the shift from romantic comedy to straight comedy and then a shift back to romantic comedy in the last few episodes.
The series was well-paced, with plenty of wriggle room for the viewer to get to know Chiyo and the slowly growing cast of characters. As for Nozaki, we see him grow (in his own weird way) on account of Chiyo. We also get to know the other cast members through both Chiyo and Nozaki. After all, some of the characters are introduced by Nozaki, such as Mikoto Mishiba; whilst the others are introduced by Chiyo, such as Seo. Please note that each of these characters are twisted versions of typical anime and manga archetypes. If you do decide to watch the series all of the way through, note that the ending is somewhat odd. I won’t say much, but just know that we don’t necessarily get closure for Chiyo and Nozaki. And yet, I felt that it was somewhat appropriate given the quirky nature of the series itself.
To the comedy, this is really down to personal taste. Whilst I spent most of my time nursing sore ribs from laughing at how deliberately stupid it was, some might not appreciate the gags that primarily poke fun at both the industry and Shōjo genre in general. In any case, the series seems to hit the nail on the hit with its representation of how over-the-top and silly some Shōjo can get. It does make the sane decision to steer around commentary around issues of consent that some Shōjo series have, as the focus is being silly rather than being depressing. This also means that there is a lot less for adults to worry about when considering if children in their care should watch.
As for the art, the lines were neat, colours were vibrant and characters distinct. Whilst it makes use of archetypal styles for characters, there is a freshness to the way that they are drawn that made me smile. It just went well with the silly nature of the series itself. The intro and outro music is enjoyable, with stingers throughout the series that seem oddly familiar.

Did I enjoy the series? Yes. However, it is not for everyone given the humour. That being said, if you are an avid devourer of Shōjo then I recommend watching at least a three or four episodes of the series to see if it appeals to your personal tastes. Why? Because a few of characters are introduced a few episodes into the series, and they contribute to the story in interesting ways. Just remember my warning about the ending.

Next week, I will likely be reviewing the series Working, a series recommended by reader kwenzqoatl. Feel free to check out their blog when you get the chance.


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TV Review: Something About One Percent Episode 6

Episodes: Sixth episode of English subbed KDrama series
Something About 1 Percent Online: MyDramaList, DramaFeverIMDBAsianWiki
Genre: Romantic Comedy

The week has been an odd one. So many distractions… But I must steel myself and get back to the semblance of the weekly schedule that I devised before Christmas. I don’t want to fall back into mindless and unproductive routines. Enough of me whining about how much I have been slacking off this past week. Time to get stuck into the amusing task at hand – reviewing the sixth instalment of Something About One Percent.

Spoilers… Spoilers everywhere…

This week’s episode sees Kim Da-Hyun (Jeon So-Min) wear a dress and nice earrings to meet up with Lee Jae-In (Ha Seok-Jin) at their predesignated date after overhearing his description of her being “old-fashioned” in the elevator during the latter parts of the previous episode. Whilst Attorney Park Hyung-Joon ( Kim Sun-Hyuk) becomes somewhat doe-eyed, Lee throws a hissy fit because she shows a shoulder. When Lee complains, she points out that she doesn’t want to look “old-fashioned”, something that goes completely over his head.
We move to Lee’s cousin Min Tae-Ha (Kim Hyung Min) who discusses with his dad Min Hyuk-Ju (Kim Min-Sang) what he’s learned about Kim from a small amount of investigation. He also points out something that he already told his dad in a previous episode, that he now has somebody tailing his cousin. There is also talk about his dating, his dad reinforcing the notion of dating a good wife and not some useless woman. One assumes that his parents have very specific parameters about what constitutes a “good wife” and a “useless woman”, probably something to do with what it offers to them financially. It is obvious that that side of the family doesn’t want to leave anything to chance, such as the unknown changes to the old man’s will that they are still trying to determine the nature of.
Back to Lee, Kim and Park at the lunch… Well, it grows increasingly more awkward and Attorney Park finds it highly amusing how his friend is reacting to Kim. After Kim leaves, Lee finally realises what triggered her “transformation”. He chases after her at he attempts to make amends for the perceived slight, clarifying that she only heard part of what he said and that he didn’t mean it as an insult. He heads to the fashion boutique that Kim’s friend Hyun Yin works at to return the outfit and to encourage her not to lend Kim those sorts of clothes again… because he is still a goofball. Hyun Yin understandably considers him a controlling asshole. In spite of this, she acknowledges that her brother Sun Woo is too late in chasing after her friend, understanding the weird chemistry that Lee and Kim have. (Let’s just face it, she understands that Kim acted out because she does indeed like Lee… and vice versa.)
We move to a conversation between Lee Kyoo Cheol (Joo Jin Mo) and Lee Soo Jung (Lee Hae In), where she grills the old man for info on the girl that Lee is dating, clarifying that the arrangement is for Lee’s sake rather than that of the company. She is worried about the young man’s future but understands that he needs to be happy as well.
In the next scene, Kim thinks about Lee’s clarification about what she didn’t hear him say… while eating chicken wings. He says some really adorable things. She has a further discussion with Hyun Yin about chicken and love. Kyun Yin proceeds to hijack Kim’s phone to apologise in her own unique way, by sending him pictures of Kim in other dresses. He appreciates the gesture.
The next morning, Lee sets up a dinner and movie date for that day. Soon after, Kang runs in with news about an important, urgent matter – a bomb threat has been made. He goes into emergency mode, arranging for guests to be evacuated. After a business-related meeting, he deals with the collapse of an American investor. Whilst Lee is dealing with that, Kim is waiting for him elsewhere, not realising what he is having to deal with. As she is getting stood up, he is approached by one of his exes, Chairman Han’s daughter, Han Joo-Hee (Seo Eun-Chae), the one that the chairman is now trying to marry off to Min Tae-Ha. She talks about how work always took priority for him. We also know that he shut down the engagement after she refused to sign a prenuptial agreement. She doesn’t seem like a terrible person, but she does seem a little pissed off at him three years since he broke it off.
Next, we see Kim leaving the shop where they’d agreed to meet, having stayed for hours waiting. Lee is waiting for her when she returns home that night and tries to make her understand what happened. In spite of him being clear about it being a significant threat of a bomb, she is still hurt. She suggests that they go back to merely doing the weekly thing until the contract period is over after he gets a call from Team Leader Kang Dong-Suk (Jo Jae-Ryong). Kim proceeds to cry in the dark, trying to convince herself that the relationship wasn’t going anywhere anyway. (She is not particularly convincing.) Lee does paperwork until morning.
The following morning Hyun Yin and Kim discuss the date… or lack thereof. As they try on outfits, the two show that they have no clue what Lee actually had to contend with the previous day. Elsewhere, Lee’s team have pulled all-nighters to deal with the fallout of the bomb threat and some other matters. Lee heads off to see his grandfather, leaving Han to get grumpy at Kang for petty stuff. At Cheol’s place, the two discuss the bomb threat, and Lee accuses his grandfather of the “prank”. His grandfather finds it hilarious.
Min Tae-Ha coincidentally sees Kim hat shopping and sees her talking to Ji Su as he considers approaching her. He considers that it might be dirt that his family can use to discredit her. After tutoring Ji Su, Kim has an unfortunate phone malfunction when about to call Lee… because she obviously likes bumping into people and dropping things.
That night, Lee waits at her door. Kim arrives and the two reconcile. We also see during their late night visit to a restaurant that Kim seems to have not heard it when he told her about the bomb threat. Lee decides to mess with Kim by implying some of the things that people sometimes do in hotels besides sleeping. Min Tae-Ha deliberates on Kim’s meeting with Ji Su by perving on some pictures that he took of them gawking at hats.
Back to the main characters, Lee slurps coffee whilst Kim sips quietly at her juice while they hold hands like a couple. In a cute moment, Lee promptly passes out from exhaustion after not getting any sleep the previous night and Kim goes goo-ga over his adorableness.

So, a lot of stuff was packed into this episode. There were a few moments when I suspected that Kim was having some horrid traits written into her character. Thankfully, this was averted by the viewer being reminded once again that she often doesn’t hear things when she is angry.
As for the pacing of this episode, it felt like it was waving a little bit… before returning to a coherent story again. We see just how much can also happen within the span of a few days, such as the introduction of Lee’s ex-fiancee and Min Tae-Ha seeing Kim with Ji Su.
What did we learn from this episode?

  1. Dinner and a movie is a must for any budding couple.. but will be ruined by a bomb threat (I am not kidding her. This also happened to a date that one of my brothers went on more than a decade ago)
  2. Lee likes to play with items that may contain explosives…
  3. Lee used to be engaged… And here I was, thinking that they merely dated
  4. There are multiple female characters that appear to be part of the Han family
  5. Just because you think that a person heard you, they may not have
  6. Girls like to play dress-up when talking about men
  7. Lee purchased the hotel from his grandfather for cash
  8. Your competition might like to snap happy shots of your when you are doing sometimes as mundane as hat shopping #hatstalker
  9. Coffee is not always the solution. Sometimes your body needs some sleep.

Though this episode was a little flawed, it still managed to contribute something meaningful to character development and the overall progression of the story. We also see some foreshadowing of some obstacles to come in the form of Min Tae-Ha and Han Joo-Hee. With this in mind, I look forward to seeing how the series will progress during the second half of the season.


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Keiko’s Video of the Week #004

In this fourth instalment of this video of the week segment, we will be looking at communication. The video was created for LangFocus, a youtube channel that I ‘ve been subscribed to for several years now, and covers one aspect of language known as Grammatical Case. It is an element prevalent in most if not all languages. As for the video itself, it offers examples from several languages, giving viewers a well-rounded understanding of how relevant Grammatical Case is to modern communication. It should also encourage folks to consider how a language that they are currently learning is ordered based on the language family.

You can find Paul’s youtube channel here, where he discusses a host of different languages and language families with the student in mind. I would also recommend that you check out the official LangFocus website when the site is up and running again. There, you’ll find a really nice blog and numerous articles about languages around the world.