Friday, July 18, 2014

Anime Night

It's been a really long time since I've picked up a new anime series. There's a ton on my list of things I want to watch but I just haven't had a ton of time to devote to it. But in March I went to Japan on a work trip, and while I was there I ended up watching several anime shows that were airing later at night when I was at the hotel. I just figured out last week that one of them was online to watch, so my husband and I decided to have an anime night where we watched the first episode of a few different shows.

First up was Inari Kon Kon, the anime I'd been wanting to watch. The episode I saw in Japan was of course not subtitled, but it seemed interesting and I liked the animation, and honestly I could kind of follow the plot just from the visuals it was employing, which signified to me that it would be reminiscent of other stuff I'd liked, if a little cliche.

The plot is fun, a girl named Inari helps out a fox spirit (who she thinks is a normal dog) and in return the goddess of the temple grants her one wish. Earlier that day she'd discovered the guy she liked might actually like another girl, so she wishes to become the other girl. Of course this doesn't go as expected, when does it? I wasn't wrong that it was a little cliche, you can pretty much see almost every plot development coming a mile away and the characters are all exactly what you would expect them to be. But I don't mind, I do want to watch the whole show, especially since it's only ten episodes. This is the kind of simple and fun story that I often enjoy, and it doesn't hurt that the fox spirits are adorable.

My husband's first pick was Captain Earth. I had never heard of it, but it seemed like a pretty standard giant robot show. Which it was, I guess. I actually enjoyed the first fifteen minutes, but when the story really gets going it suddenly becomes really, really confusing.

What's worse is that the eyecatch for the commercial break says something like "all will become clear" and it definitely doesn't. I just got more and more confused. But in the end, I imagine I'll figure it out as the show goes on, nothing was too messed up that it couldn't be explained to some satisfaction. The characters were interesting enough that I do want to keep watching it.

So, I got to pick next and I finally caved and decided to watch Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club. I'd heard a lot about it, and there was a lot of merchandise in Japan, so why not? The first episode actually isn't something that would make me watch the show if it didn't have a huge following, if I'm being honest. Two of the main characters just don't really do anything other than look good in swimsuits, at least not anything that made me want to know more about them.

Two of the other characters were interesting and I wanted to know more, but they don't seem to be the focus so I'm not sure how much will be about them. But in general, there was just so much backstory in the first episode, I kind of wanted it to throw me in the middle of the action like Captain Earth did instead. But obviously I'll keep watching, everybody's obsessed with this show and there must be a reason. Plus, you know, not bad to look at.

My husband wavered for a minute before picking another giant robot anime but in the end he picked Argevollen. This was definitely my least favorite pick of the night, and kind of a sad place to end on really. I had no problem following the story even though we're not given a ton of detail, but that's because it was just stuff I've seen before over and over again. The characters didn't really become anything or do anything at all, I couldn't tell you anything about any of them after the end of the episode except that the main character is a bit of an idiot.

Honestly the only effect the first episode had on me was making me want to watch Full Metal Panic again. At least in that one the characters are developed as people, the robots aren't as weird looking, and I actually care about the conflict because they set it up. But this one, it just goes nowhere for the entire first episode, really. I don't care that the main character gets the awesome new mech because I don't know if I even want his side to win the war. Not a good start.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Julep Round Up: Makeup

So I started this with a "here's how to spend your Jules before you cancel your Julep Maven account" because I didn't realize you can't even spend Jules on regular purchases can you? You can only get "Jule" boxes or your monthly Maven box with them. What a useless bonus program. Meanwhile I got like $80 of products from Birchbox for $3 because of points, a discount code, and extra samples.

Anyway, as much as I complain about Julep, they actually have some pretty good products. So here's some more you might want to look into. Sorry for the lack of pictures, most of my stuff came in boxes and I didn't do individual photos of them.

Blank Canvas Mattifying Face Primer: I got this in a mystery box, I probably never would have picked up on my own. So, it promises to absorb shine and lock in moisture, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and pores. In general, it does make my foundation go on smoothly and well, and it works perfectly well as a primer, I do notice a positive difference when I use it. However, I don't think it's any better or worse than any other primer I've used and I'll probably try out a drugstore brand after this is up. One thing it doesn't do is reduce the appearance of wrinkles and pores, I've noticed absolutely no change on that front. Meanwhile Benefit's The POREFessional is like dark magic or something.

Sweep Eyeshadow Palette: Neutrals: I'm not really the best judge of if eyeshadow is really high quality or not, to be honest. I know nothing about formula, pigment, and all that stuff. But this a good neutral palette, and I do really like the colors in it. The main problem for me is like most Julep things, price. This is just WAY too much to be charging for the size of this palette. Like most of their photos, they give you no context for the size and it's just smaller than you'd think and not worth $24 for sure. Maybe I'm just cheap. For less money, you can get the 28 Neutral Color Eyeshadow Palette from BH Cosmetics, which has a lot of similar neutral browns. And you wait a month or so, BH has a lot of amazing sales, plus great customer service.

Eye Sheen Liquid Eyeshadow: This is again a thing where I can't say anything bad about it, and since it's the only liquid eyeshadow I own, I can't really compare it to another product. It does go on smoothly and easily, dries quickly, and if I use a good primer it doesn't get creases. But again, the price is a killer because you can't get a sense of the size. This thing is TINY, and maybe I'm cheap but I just don't think I would ever pay $18 for it. Especially because without an applicator, you either have to put it on with your finger, which ew, or get a brush really yucky. Definitely needs new packaging.

Kajal Eye Glider: I got this in a mystery box, and at the time I was convinced I couldn't master eye liner, especially a pencil, because I'd only used cheap ones that were too hard to work well. So I have to point out this is in fact a very good eyeliner pencil, it's actually the best one I have right now. The fact that it's got both brown and black is an extra bonus. I haven't shopped around a lot to know if the price is fair or not, but since I don't wear a ton of eyeliner it's going to last me forever, so I'm really happy with it. It does blend and smudge well, and it stays on all day, and I just generally really like it. It made me go back to liking pencils over liquid eyeliner.

Julep Lip Gloss: I have two tubes of this, in Charming and Timeless. It's good lip gloss, it stays put and looks nice. Unlike other things here, the size is actually great, there's enough of it to last me forever. I think Charming is actually a really excellent color, one of my favorites. I like this just as well as some of my high end samples I've gotten from Birchbox, and the packaging is cute too. $20 seems a little steep, but it's on par with the name brand stuff I've seen. Is it better than some drugstore brand or something way cheaper? I don't know, probably not. But if you're already buying $20 lip gloss, this isn't a bad one to try.

Now, I know I haven't really been giving glowing reccomendations to the Maven program, I still think at this point until they fix their customer service it's a bad buy. But their makeup products aren't bad, I haven't gotten a bad one yet. Are they overpriced? Some of them are, absolutely. The eyeshadow should not cost that much. Their prices are pretty consistent with really high end brands like Smashbox or NARS, and quite frankly I'm not sure they're as good as that. In fact of all of these products the only one I would say I would actually think about actually buying if I ran out would be the Kajal Eye Glider. All of these I got in Maven boxes or mystery boxes, and they've been good additions to my makeup and I'm happy with them.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Julep Round-Up: Hand, and Foot care

As I posted last week, I'm pretty much done with Julep. So I'm going to review their products that I've gotten to try, other than specific nail colors, so that people might know how to spend their remaining Jules and cancel their memberships. Also, hopefully to introduce a few alternate places to get items.

I'm just going to use their shop categories to organize it. So first is Hand, and Foot Care. These are just reviews of the items I've tried in the time I've been a Maven. If I reviewed a product before (like as part of a mystery box) I'll just be copy/pasting my review and also noting that.

Vanish Cuticle Softener and Remover: I've only used this once, and I can say that it definitely softened my cuticles more than other things I've tried. I still don't exactly see the point of messing around too much with my cuticles but I wanted something for when they get a bit out of control. This definitely does the job and does it exactly how it says it will. You follow the directions and you get the results they say you will.

Update 10/8/2014: I have since stopped using the Vanish cuticle remover after a huge disaster with my nails about a month after I posted this. I don't know if it was the Vanish or the Oxygen base coat treatment, or a combination, but strips of the top keratin layer of my nails started to peel off. They're only just starting to recover a few months later, and I'm not risking it happening again. If anybody liked this product, I will sell you my bottle for cheap.

Cuticle Pusher: So, this is in fact a very nice cuticle pusher, and I'd been wanting a good metal one because the orange sticks I have never seemed all that great. It's very well made and well balanced, I'm just not entirely sure it's as good as the price tag suggests.

Both items received as part of the Memorial Day Mystery Box #4, full review here.

Doublestep Foot Treatment and Friction Stick: I had been thinking about buying this before, but I read a few negative reviews on the website and hesitated. I'm kind of glad I did, because I got one in this box. And also, because the reviews were right and I wouldn't want to have two. Honesty, there's no way this is worth even the $17.60. As soon as you apply any pressure (you know, like by actually using it like it's meant to be used) it rolls right back into the container, so you have to hold the dial at the bottom to actually use it. It doesn't go on particularly smoothly, and I haven't noticed it really doing much to prevent blisters though I admit I don't wear shoes that regularly cause blisters. I also haven't noticed it being particularly moisturizing or nourishing. There are much cheaper products that do the same thing, this is the first major disappointment I've gotten from Julep.

Moisture Mask Trio: I've only tried the nail and foot masks so far. The nail masks are interesting, and they're not lying when they say you can still use a touch screen through them, which surprised me. I wasn't going to bother but I got a phone call the second I finished putting them on, so I'm glad they worked! The foot masks were a little awkward, but they stayed on and everything did what it said it would. I didn't notice any particularly amazing difference in my skin after each one, but it was a nice way to relax and pamper myself for a little while.

Both items were part of my first mystery box, the Diamond Mystery Box, which I review (and complain about the shipping) here. Since then, I finished up the Doublestep Foot Treatment Stick and only grew to dislike it even more as time went on. And there's at least several days worth of product at the bottom that becomes unusable because of the way the stick functions, and product waste due to packaging really gets me cranky. The Moisture Mask Trio, it's worth noting that I haven't bought another one since this one even when they were on pretty drastic sales, because while I enjoyed the nail mask a lot, the hand and foot masks were only so-so and I just never felt inclined to do them again, so not really a strong recommend there, because you can't get the nail mask on it's own.

Mint Condition Pedi Creme: I got this in my very first intro Maven box, and I've been pretty happy with it. I don't really know how much it's created any kind of "soothing moisture and gentle exfoliation for rough, dry skin" or anything, but it's a good lotion and I liked that it was a little bit less thick for something that goes on my feet. I don't know why but I prefer thinner lotions that rub in more quickly. Because I haven't noticed anything miraculous over it, now that my bottle is almost empty I wasn't planning on replacing it, but partially because I'm also just trying to use up all the lotion I have right now so I can buy something awesome from Birchbox as a treat.

Instant Warming Foot Scrub: This is one item that I really, really liked. The instant warming action is no joke, and it feels fabulous. It's a great scrub, it smells good, and I really like using it. My only problem is the packaging, it's actually really, really difficult to squeeze out any amount of scrub from the bottle onto my feet, I have to use both hands to do it, so you can't put some scrub on your hand and then use it, you have to put it straight on your foot. But otherwise, I really liked this product. Replacement: I'm just going to go back to using The Body Shop's Peppermint Foot Scrub (which I reviewed here). I love it, it works just as well, it's not as expensive and at least The Body Shop has good customer service.

Luxe Care Hand Creme: I only got one sample of this and to be honest I hated it and I can't even remember why. I seem to recall it smelling funny and being a weird texture, but all I know is I've avoided it since. Sorry I can't be more helpful on this one.

Glycolic Hand Scrub: I hate this stuff. I had two small samples of it and it gets so many good reviews I tried it twice because I thought maybe I was crazy, but it smelled. It smelled weird and it made my hands smell weird and it didn't really do anything at all for my hands, and definitely was not as good as advertised. I have no idea what I'm missing here. Replacement: Any scrub from The Body Shop probably, their shea butter scrub is pretty nice.

Rock Star Hand Creme: I admit, this is a nice hand lotion if you don't need something heavy duty, so maybe not for the dry winter months. It rubs in quickly, it's not greasy, and it's just a nice lotion. It's not full price wonderful ($16 for 3 oz is far too much for something that's just "good") but if it's in a package deal or on sale, or you're using Jules, this could do. Replacement: Once the sample size I got in a mystery box is done, I'll just go back to my standby hand lotion, Look Ma, New Hands from Bath and Body Works. It has parrafin built into the lotion and there's nothing I've found that can handle my super dry winter-time hands as well as it does. And because it's so moisturizing a little bit goes a LONG way and a bottle lasts forever.

Spend Your Jules: If you're looking to spend your Jules, then the Moisture Mask Trio is a good treat, the Rock Star Hand Creme does the job it says it will do (though it's a bit pricey), and the Mint Condition Pedi Creme is a good product. I'd suggest the warming foot scrub but it's usually out of stock these days.