I’ve run into a little problem with the current slate of shows and I can only really briefly describe it in this one sentence: Despite the crop of shows this season being considered to be solid by the vast majority of people I talk to, I cannot bring myself to say anything other than “meh” about this season. I’m well aware that it is early days yet, but having casually dismissed the most popular and well-received of this season’s shows has only led to yet another bout of questioning exactly where I am in terms of the medium.
The Picture Because I Quit Summer Season Previews
Lacking Context in the Middle of Nowhere
While fighting off the temptation to express my opinion on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (short version: A good first episode without 20 seconds that makes it troubling if not ruining it entirely), I remembered that I was invited in to write something on Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II. There’s actually a little bit of back story before I get into this post for real.
Back in July, as a result of a stupid wager on the Aniblog Tourney I ended up at Otakon. I went to a panel on sexism in anime, actually this one to be exact. Uncomfortably, I had made some purchases prior to this that made me feel like a terrible person for having attended this panel. Actually that’s the same feeling I’ve been having for most of the time since Kaibutsu-kun aired, but I digress slightly. The title character of Horizon came up as an example of an archetype of a character that is empty and can only be satisfied by the male protagonist who is there to allow the viewer to self-insert to gain a level of control over that character. Of course, that may be reading it entirely wrong, but that’s just going from memory.
Surprisingly, the chat on Horizon continued later that night at the local Hard Rock Cafe between repeated rounds of very large alcoholic beverages. The_Patches continued to talk about the show after having watched the 2nd episode and written on it. He made a very compelling case that there was something inherently interesting about Horizon’s concept. That trying to recover history by trying to re-enact it could be a fun experience stuck with me.
As I further delve off topic from the episode, I have to think that this is an interesting time that humanity is living through. Most of my adult life has been taken up with a terrorist attack, global military action in response that continues to this day, a couple Presidential elections here in America and financial dealings that have resulted in my general feeling that this current era is probably what the 1970s felt like.
In a better world, would people want to relive the current era? I think the prospect of going back to the 17th century seems a lot more appealing than going back to the Great Depression for instance. I generally have an opinion that the earlier period seems more appealing because of advances in the study of history and technology in general. There just isn’t as much source material from 16th century, so it’s easier for certain narratives to dominate. The English beating Spain’s Great Armada makes a great story. The underdog wins because conditions allowed it to happen. It’s an enlightening story out of a time filled with religious persecution.
Modern history, on the other hand, captures all that is terrible with the world. You can’t help but think that Humanity Has Declined as technology has allowed history to be measure in minutes. New documentation of an event is released in the morning, and by the time dinner comes around it’s already been packaged and re-packaged again for consumption for certain constituencies; some more fervent than others. From where I’m sitting, it can feel like I’m experiencing a different version of modern history than the one that’s been created for me by the media. It all just feels like a work of fiction.
So to go revisit earlier in this post, those events of global terrorism and the recession haven’t had a direct measurable impact on me (the latter more than the former obviously), but I have to keep those ideas in mind constantly. My very nature and the fact I studied history makes two minor opinions, but the only impact I can have is by marking a sheet of paper in a certain spot to elect someone to represent me at various levels of government. That somehow my 1/3 millionth of an electorate to determine 5/269ths of the voting pool for this nation’s highest office is important. The reality is that I matter as much to the history of the present day as a random subsistence farmer did in the mid-17th century.
So to wrap up the introduction to this post succinctly. The 17th century sound fun because of all of the stories that have been filtered through time. Modern history sucks because we know everything about what’s happening, but it allows me to watch Horizon. So on to the episode.
Continue reading Lacking Context in the Middle of Nowhere
Pointless Debate #30: Defending the Indefensible
As this seems to be a day where some are making ridiculous arguments about preferences in their favorite anime, I figured I may as well jump on this bandwagon before it leaves never to return (or in 4 months). I’ve also decided to use the mighty power of Twitter to try to come up with ideas in this post to try to defend based on the title. Needless to say, I may have picked a bad day to do this. (Note: none of the views expressed below represent my real opinion on views, they are just my attempts to defend indefensible views on specific topics)
Continue reading Pointless Debate #30: Defending the Indefensible
Emperor J Elsewhere: April 6-13
In the first of hopefully many (or more likely none), I have actually done some stuff on other sites if anyone was interested.
First up was participating in a different sort of First Impressions post. I was part of a team that wrote 50 words each on the first episode of Mysterious Girlfriend X while only knowing the last 10 words the previous writer wrote. Try to see if you can figure out which part is mine.
Then, if you ever really wanted to hear what I sounded like but never got around to asking, I appeared on Desu Ex Machina’s Friday Anime Podcast. It was a fun time talking about several of the new shows this season with Kevo and Aeroblip. I could have gone on for much longer yet, but sadly that had to be left on the editing room floor. So no Legend of the Galactic Heroes or Giant Killing or any other show I’ve blogged here.
Hopefully, more pans out for the future and I can do more posts like this in the future.
Pointless Debate #26: Most Pointless Harem Lead
I was inspired slightly by another post into doing this. That post was largely about the boring male leads that have become synonymous with anyone who has seen a decent amount of anime series, but it really got me to think about the modern harem anime scene. If there is any genre that is known for boring, pointless leads, it’s harem anime.
Before I get started with eliminating some of the candidates, I must admit I was surprised at how much negative connotation the idea of something being considered harem is. There are a number of series Haruhi, Kanon, and Clannad amongst others that I would consider harem that are not because the mods at MAL do not consider them so. Since I chose to go only from their select pool, I was limited to a large extent, but it was still surprising that I had to add another candidate just to make 64. Continue reading Pointless Debate #26: Most Pointless Harem Lead
Where I Answer A Bunch of Questions Answered by Others
I’m not too big on bandwagon jumping. My votes in the Anime Power Rankings reflect that. Plus, the spring isn’t actually looking all that promising. So following Inushide, Lostty, Caraniel, and Yumeka (along with many others who have probably done it, but I hadn’t seen) I’m answering a set if 50 questions that have been going around this particular blogosphere.
I’ve been slacking of late as far as the non-episodic posts. Blogging 4 series at the same time tends to lead to burnout rather quickly, so I plan to get to that when times aren’t as busy. Now that it’s down to 3 series I have a programming issue I haven’t had to address in many a year. I guess people want to see more insight into the personal lives of the people they are following because it makes it easier to relate to them. There’s quite a bit of that on Twitter, but these questions are supposed to address that. Here goes nothing
1. Who is your favorite male anime character?
This is really a hard question to start with because I generally have a hard time deciding on one. Ask me in 10 minutes and my opinion would change. I’ve gone from thinking Vegeta was utterly badass to going through various generic main characters because of the rest of the cast. I even had Kuroda from Giant Killing in this high tier of characters. Ultimately though I had to settle on Jinto from the Seikai franchise. The man takes action when necessary, and fully commits himself to the one he loves.
2. Who is your favorite female anime character?
This one is actually much easier. That would be one Hildegard von Mariendorf. Who could not like a character who was the perfect foil for the man who conquered the entire galaxy? Her marriage was rather farcical given that it came as a result of the two of them giving n to their passions. If anything, it actually made her character that much more endearing.
3. What is your favorite anime soundtrack?
I’d probably go with the OSTs of Macross Plus. It was the first anime I watched where it felt like the music mattered. It was essential to the plot as is the case in most of the Macross series. It then led to a rapid gathering of much of Yoko Kanno’s collection to that point. This was over a decade ago, I should add and this OST still gets into my music rotation.
4. What is your favorite anime opening + animation?
Eden of the East, at least the broadcast version because the music from the Mancunian band does feel necessary. The animation itself actually gives a full synopsis of the plot and the sense of desperation coming from Akira and Saki.
5. What is your favorite anime ending + animation?
Oh boy, endings. I don’t really watch many of these. Kare Kano probably doesn’t count since it isn’t animation. I’ll go with the ending from the 7th episode of Hanamaru Kindergarden. A tribute to silent film before a silent film could win an Academy Award. Unfortunately, I think everyone involved has probably moved on to a different studio by now.
6. What is your favorite anime scene?
Episode 82 of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Anyone who’s watched it will know exactly what scene.
7. If you could meet an anime character who would it be?
I’d probably go with Fumihiko Matsumaru from REC. The guy works in an office all day and probably has good tales to tell over large amounts of beer.
8. What anime character is most similar to you in terms of personality?
Watashi from Tatami Galaxy, in the worst possible way.
9. What is your favorite thing about anime?
If I was completely and totally honest, I would probably say because it’s different. Not different in the way that those straight-to-Sci Fi Channel movies were during my teenage years, rather it’s more like a grocery or liquor store. There’s a section devoted to stuff from abroad, which makes it seem unique from everything that’s considered normal. It may cost a little bit more, but it seems like it’s different.
10. What is your least favorite thing about anime?
The thought that it could be considered a special product just on it’s own. Anime is capable of being just as bad as even the worst live-action movies and TV shows. I guess this is more an indictment of certain fans over anything else. So sticking entirely to the topic, I’d split it between the name used to define a block of 12 episodes at a time and the phenomenon of officially shortened titles.
11. Who’s your favorite anime couple?
Jinto & Lafiel from Crest/Banner of the Stars. When the question going around the aniblogosphere was “What anime would you want to see?”, all I could think of was more of those two. I don’t think anything else comes close.
12. Who is your favorite anime animal?
Leader from Honey & Clover. Though if we can count just non-human entities I would go for Chizuru from Kanokon, purely for superficial reasons.
13. What anime would make a good game?
The World God Only Knows as a dating sim would be incredibly meta
14. What game would make a good anime?
This is going to be a bit difficult as I don’t play that many games that translate into a story. Just for the hell of it, any of the new Street Fighter games to be adapted as top quality terribad viewing.
15. What was the first anime you ever watched?
This is sort of a difficult question. It could really be a number of things when I was a kid, like Speed Racer, Voltron or Robotech. Purists may not count that, but under other conditions it could also be Dragonball Z, Ranma 1/2 or Sailor Moon. It’s not a simple question to answer.
16. Do you think you’ll ever stop watching anime?
I could make this question morbid, but I’ll just settle for it’s highly likely that I would at some point in the distant future.
17. What is your favorite genre of anime?
I’m not really one for picking a favorite genre. That said I do usually consider what genre a show is trying to be when trying to rate it.
18. What is your least favorite genre of anime?
See the above answer if I’m trying to be fair. If not, then I would just stick to the “slice-of-life nothing happens ever” genre.
19. Are you open about watching anime with people you know?
There’s one guy at work who I took to ACen last year who knows. The rest of the people I know have never even bothered asking what I’m into. So I guess it’s more of an “if I’m asked directly about it” question than not.
20. Have you ever been to Japan?
No, but maybe some day when I actually have the money to do so.
21. What anime was the biggest letdown for you?
Clannad, which was supposed to have this emotional appeal to a large audience. I just wanted to violently throttle Jun Maeda into unconsciousness after watching it.
22. What anime was better than expected?
Probably Kaiba had the biggest jump between what I was expecting and what I watched. I really high on the show based on initial impressions and how poorly the show did in sales, and that it’s unlicensible outside of Australia. Turns out it was an absolute joy to watch. It’s a shame there’s little interest in it.
23. What is the best anime fight scene?
This is actually a pretty hard one, simply because I really don’t want to count mecha battles. For the way this battle concludes with the completely out of left field athletic ability of one of the participants, I choose this:
24. Who is your anime waifu?
I never really understood this concept. What the hell does it even mean anyway? As soon as someone can give me a logical reason for having one, I will get around to choosing one.
25. What was your favorite video game as a child?
Probably Sonic 3 & Knuckles, that locking mechanism was state-of-the-art for 1995. Think I got hundred of hours out of that game.
26. Most embarrassing moment?
You would have to talk to me in person to get this story, sorry.
27. Can you drive?
Yes, though it feels like I have a target on my rear bumper sometimes.
28. Are you mature?
I don’t think so. I do lots of stupid crap all the time and waste time and energy on things that I really shouldn’t.
29. What year were you born?
1983, 16 years after the Summer of Love.
30. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Dogs because cats just use people for their own ends.
31. Describe yourself physically.
6 feet even, and otherwise I don’t stand out in any particular way.
32. What would you name your first child?
I honestly haven’t thought about it because I’ve never thought the possibility I could have a kid was realistic.
33. What is the worst injury you’ve ever had?
I impaled my leg on part of a tree when I was 8, that’s probably about as bad as it gets.
34. What is your worst habit?
Always hiding who I really am from people. So fear is my worst habit.
35. Do you drink or smoke?
Yes…alright, I don’t smoke is that fair enough?
36. Do you have a tattoo?
Of course not. I just think any tattoo on me would look terrible.
37. Are you a morning or a night person?
Mornings because that’s just how I grew up in maximizing video game time when I was a kid.
38. Have you ever slept past midday?
Now that I think of it, probably not.
39. Do you regret anything?
Tons, I have that recurring wish that I could go back 11 years ago and change what I did then. I’d probably use that ability for evil, though.
40. Can you count the number of friends that you have on one hand?
Sometimes it feels like I have many, other times it feels like I wouldn’t need any hands to count. It really just depends on when I’m asked this.
41. Do you wear glasses?
I go with contacts. I was picked on when I had glasses as a kid, plus my parents basically picked for me. I still have a pair, but it never goes out in public.
42. Are you a picky eater?
Not really, I’ll actually try most things that look somewhat edible. I used to hate anything with mushrooms, and though I don’t love them, I will at least eat stuff with them in it. I do know people at work who consider pizza a vegetable, so I’m not terrible.
43. Would you die for someone?
As I am now, I probably wouldn’t. If I had kids then it might be a different story.
44. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Charisma to the extent that I could convince anyone to do anything I wanted. I’d be like the guy in these commercials:
45. Do you believe in the supernatural?
Not really, that’s something used to make more money be those selling supernatural goods or the idea itself.
46. Would you rather be rich or famous?
Rich, so I could use the money to become famous. Like donating enough money to have a hospital wing named after me, or kicking my Congressman out of office.
47. Have you ever committed a crime?
You’d have to ask me in person to get the answer, it’s related to the earlier question.
48. Time traveler or ghost?
Time traveling because screwing around with history and having untold consequences sounds exciting.
49. Does anybody have a crush on you?
I think my existence probably doesn’t register enough to make this possible.
50. Are you in a relationship?
Oh heavens no. I don’t think I deserve it either.
Pointless Debate #26: Season Previews Revisited
In my last post for Haganai, I had a comment mention something about the fact that I should do a season preview before picking any show to write about for the winter. I would have responded in the comments there, but 18 months ago I had my say on season previews. I didn’t really understand the point. Most relevant bloggers these days have preview posts of some sort. I should at least point to Scamp’s well written one since I pretty much relied on it heavily when categorizing these shows. My comments in the above aren’t entirely serious if you couldn’t tell, but I had to carry something over.
So ultimately I’ve decided to begin the year by putting together a legitimate attempt at a season. I’m not going to include opinions on sequels of shows I haven’t seen since that’s really unfair. Let’s hope this turns out respectable.
Continue reading Pointless Debate #26: Season Previews Revisited
Pointless Debate #21: The Suggestion Box
It can be said that using something like a mailbox for a post is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. In that spirit I have grabbed a spoon and am prepared to dive right in on various topics that were sent in over the last day or 2.
[C] and the Role of Government (And Other Criticisms)
Much of the commentary on the recent episodes of [C] is that it could be considered a criticism of deficit spending by governments. Scamp ultimately came to this conclusion, however I see it differently. Much of the action in [C] has been defined by complete inaction by governments and international agencies like the IMF. Essentially I see the events of the series as showing the powerlessness of governments in the age of a globalism controlled by private investors.
Continue reading [C] and the Role of Government (And Other Criticisms)
That Weird Area Between New and Nostalgia
Something that’s been on my mind since the last post has been the question of how quickly interest in a series dies. Judging by Madoka Magica it could be a mere week following the conclusion. On the other hand, some series live on inspiring such statements as “Akira is the Casablanca of anime.” The way something gets from the here-and-now to classic poses many questions, some more than others. Continue reading That Weird Area Between New and Nostalgia
I Remember Lo…er Mecha
With the Sai Mecha tournament beginning, I thought it might be a good exercise to see if I could actually remember enough names to come up with a decent nomination slate. This blog hasn’t featured mecha in any decent amount since the early days where I had one reader. The tournament itself I find a peculiar idea, there’s clearly a large number of fans who care about the genre, but mecha themselves have ironically become an anachronism.
Now onto the nominations. Earlier I found out I couldn’t nominate such things as The Iron Giant, Megas from Megas XLR, neither Big Guy or Rusty or any of the mecha from Exosquad. Disappointed as I was with 5 of my favorites being disqualified, here’s 12 others:
1. RB-79 Ball
I figured I would just start with the Ball. In the UC universe as I remember it, it was the only mecha the Federation could utilize against Zeon until some kid and his training manual heroics came around. I remember it just being a mere joke, for it’s obvious inspiration from 2001 to the fact it was completely useless against any opponent with real mecha. That was until 08th MS Team‘s Shiro Amada showed off amazing skills in the Ball from the first episode. As the most technologically feasible on this list, it’s also the least powerful.
2, 3 & 4. MS-07 Gouf, RX-79[G] Gundam Ez8 and RX-75 Guntank
So it’s more from 08th MS Team. Needless to say, this is my favorite battle of everything I’ve seen. So I had to include the Gouf piloted by Norris Packard, Shiro Amada’s mass produced Gundam and the Guntank which was Norris’ objective in the mission. Apologies for using dub footage, but that was all I could find with minimal effort on Youtube.
This was something I watched about a year ago, but it is vintage Tomino. Ideon is a classic story of 2 races who are so similar to each other that they can’t comprehend coming together for the sake of the universe. The Ideon mecha is powered by a mysterious force that is also wreaking havoc on Earth and the Buff Clan’s Earth. What follows is near constant death of all who try to get close to understanding what that force is. Then, infamously everyone in the universe dies at the end.
Pretty much what was covered here.
You know something has crossed a cultural threshold when you get quotes like this in a US sports page:
“Y’all don’t know what Voltron is?” Maroney said, incredulous and just getting rolling. “Don’t tell me none of y’all watched Voltron? Nobody never watched the cartoon Voltron? They connect! Five of them. (Looking around, laughing) Man, all that stories and reading and things you do, y’all don’t know nothing about Voltron? Any of y’all got kids? You don’t sit down and watch (Voltron) with your kids…”
So mediocre NFL running backs aren’t necessarily the standard for the general population, but I can at least understand where he was coming from. Voltron as it was called in the Western releases was the first series with mecha that I can remember. Sure the editing was 4Kids level, but when everything else animated had a Disney label on it, it was different. I’m probably exaggerating on that.
8. Mecha from Kannazuki no Miko
I’ll be up front here and say I didn’t watch enough of Kannazuki no Miko to even care what the mecha names were. I just happened to come across this as my interest in mecha was fading badly. I guess you could say this represents all of those series out there where mecha is used merely as a device of conflict, a trend that continues to this day.
9. GF13-050NSW Noble Gundam
G Gundam is a fairly easy target for ridicule. Mecha with sombreros and another with a giant windmill on its chest pretty much represent lazy stereotypes of their nations of origin. The Noble Gundam was supposed to represent Neo-Sweden, and it’s design could be lifted straight out of mahou shoujo legend. When pilot Allenby Beardsley goes berserker, that hair has functionality I suppose. Maybe I should just move on.
10.XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero
At number 10 is the only one from Gundam Wing I think is worth nominating. It’s mind-destroying capabilities made the pacifist Quatre willing to blow up a few colonies here and there as revenge for his father’s death. That episode is actually one of my favorites, and it would be on a list of my favorite individual episodes if anyone wanted me to compile one. On the downside, it’s ridiculously overpowered and has massive plot armor effects as it was constructed with the same materials, yet is indestructible.
11. MRX-009 Psyco Gundam
How could I forget this one? It just reminds me of the tragic circumstances of Kamille and Four’s relationship. Anyway, this mecha was ridiculously large because of all the newtype enhancements that needed to be crammed inside. One thing worth noting is oversized suits never do well against heroes in the UC universe (see: Big Zam).
12. Jet Alone
The Jet Alone mecha from Evangelion isn’t much in the grand scheme of the series. It appears in just 1 episode only to showcase how vastly superior NERV is at building piloted EVA units. So what actually makes Jet Alone worth nominating. I like to think that it became sentient because it realized that the world as it was shouldn’t exist.
Pointless Debate #18: Representative Anime
In the middle of a rather typical night shooting the breeze on Twitter, the subject of some sort of warfare between lovers and haters of moe came up. Not particularly having any sort of agenda on this debate, someone posted a link in it was argued that the likes of Cowboy Bebop had been glorified to such an extent that anything they believed had a similar quality with moe elements (Strike Witches in their opinion) because the latter is more typical.
This moved me onto the point of this post. In light of the revelation that something considered high-quality is not considered typical of the anime viewing experience, if one was to think of a truly representative series that represents everything coming out of Japan what would it be?
Pointless Debate #12: Escapism
Recently, I was pulled up by a “fictional” person on Twitter for a reference to escapism in Amagami SS. More specifically, I called it “the sad, sad escapism that is Amagami.” Predictably this led into a debate that really went nowhere mainly because of my own time restrictions and the fact that I was in two minds about escapism in general. However, there were a few interesting things that came out of all of this.
Pointless Debate #11: Favorite Characters
After ghostlightning once again set the agenda over at the creatively named THAT Anime Blog, and with followups from Rakuen at Borderline Hikikomori and Caraniel’s…Ramblings, I thought I may as well have a go at something like this too. Categorization of the characters in these posts have broken down into words like admirable, complex, entertaining and relatable. I would also think there are other ways to have favorite characters, which could even be in reaction to the favorites of others; positively or negatively. One could even have characters that are favorites for irony.
In Which I Try Something A Little Different
Sure it took me about two weeks to come up with something after having read this, but there’s not going to be much in the way of moralizing in this article. Instead, I’m going to take a look at the different free services that are listed there, while reflecting on my different experiences with streaming other material.
Continue reading In Which I Try Something A Little Different
Entering the Dilemma
So ghostlightning worries about the anime blogging microculture. It seems a bunch of blogs have halted and that this may point to a trend. A while back I read that there were probably millions of blogs that were dead and no longer being updated (including 4 of my previous efforts I’m sure). People losing interest in something is pretty much human nature considering the workload some put themselves through.
For me personally, the idea of someone blogging anime as a profession is patently absurd. Maybe in 20 years time, but not now. So for now, it exists mainly as the passion of those who write them. There’s a certain level of utility at which someone will keep writing. Commenters and other factors may increase that utility, word count and brainstorming may decrease it, but at some point someone will stop.
With this blog, that pattern fits me. I know I can’t do an episodic blog for the fact that it would seem more like work than actual fun. What I can do is watch a show the best part of 2 decades old once a week and put my thoughts together, and put up a weekly summary of new shows filled with references that no one has yet acknowledged as getting. Though I wish I could actually get comment discussion going, it’s not really essential for this to be the fun exercise it’s meant to be.
And as of now, there are no plans for this blog to stop despite the groans I can’t actually here from my non-existent readership.
Redeeming Factors Are Everywhere
As a response to this entry, at a site I will from here on out refer to as Rebranded Anime Blog, I’ve put together a list of redeeming features of various not-so-high quality anime. It reflects on the fact that nearly everything bad has a redeeming feature, though it’s hard to say that they actually make it any good.
Economic Analysis of the “Decline of Anime”
The anime industry is apparently in some sort of trouble. Declining sales were a problem before this whole crippling global recession became reality. At least it said so in a thread here.
At first, I thought this could be some sort of sick Malthusian trap which would see new anime production almost cease.
Join me after the jump for a look at some charts and my general analysis of the past, present and future of new production.
Continue reading Economic Analysis of the “Decline of Anime”
The Story of A Failed Anime Fan: Shows that Influence This Particular Person
My beloved audience of 0, may I now present a slightly personal story here. When I’m not suffering from crippling writer’s block, deciding whether to play Dirk Kuyt or Amr Zaki in my fantasy football team, or even gauging modern society’s future, I actually watch a lot of anime. An outsider with no knowledge of anything other than the term otaku;with all of its negative implications, could probably call me that. However, I would argue that I would be a failure at that.
Now this topic has been covered numerous times elsewhere in recent times, so this isn’t exactly uncovered territory. I write this in the hopes really that it brings a new perspective as someone who would undoubtedly be considered an outsider in the community. These shows I feel best reflect my experience as a fan of anime, and in a lot of cases they aren’t considered very good at all. Continue reading The Story of A Failed Anime Fan: Shows that Influence This Particular Person