Monthly Archives: November 2006

Sara Cruz, I Love Your Boobs?

Actually I take that back. Just her cleavage.

Somehow this picture reminds me of Nana Mizuki's new single

Soukou no Strain deserves a mention. It deserves some fan clamoring. It’s so far a very predictable affair–long separated siblings found themselves on opposite sides of a war; the protagonist, having lost all that is emotionally dear to her except her memories of the past, pushes herself forward to find out why it all happened. In the process she finds and reveals a lot of other secrets that the writers of the show hid, each in its expectant places. Well, at least it has an excuse–it’s an anime and sci-fi rendition of this book. It should seem familiar to many.

Sara reminds me of this show’s lead female. And she’s…not my type of girl, yet I admire both of them so? So driven, valiant in just the wrong way to be…hrm…appealing to the fleshly senses. In as much I hate watching an anime about stupid people getting smarter, I sure like anime about jaded and emotionally scarred people learning how to live like a normal person. Go figure.

But while the story is tried and true, I think I can only take the shell of Marlene for only so long. I think I was so :rolleyes: when I said to myself while watching episode 3, “ZOMG, the doll that gave her a place of solace and comfort turns her dream into reality! Next thing I’ll see is that this is not a real deus ex machina, but an elaborate, Evangelion-esque backstory involving clones with even bigger boobs and some kind of lousy human genome project hack that turned her brother into a terrorist!”

Still, the show itself is relentless. He’s right about its intensity. I think as long as we get more of the other characters to balance out the angst and add some flavor to the main story this is going to be a very good ride. Screw Code Gas, this is where it’s at.

A Bit of Summer to Cure Winter Blues

Somehow Asatte no Houkou keeps me going–it comes to my mind first when I write, even if I am watching plenty of other crap right now.

But here in North America it’s getting cold. Winter has always been a moody season for me and personally I find myself psychologically falling into a cycle. Spring is when I fall in love with new things, and Winter when I celebrate (or lament) on the fleeting days of the year gone by and the memories it carried. Not sure what Summer and Autumn are, yet.

Anyways, it really started with Haibane Renmei. I think when I first caught it as it was airing, it was such a lovely watch that I had to watch it as it was airing. In fact, the first 5 episodes were so good partly because of its timing. It really helps me to savor those episodes because it matched that winterly feeling, transiting from lazy Autumn afternoons into biting, Canadian-like mornings.

What’s odd about Asahou is that right now I can’t imagine watching it during Summer, and have it come off feeling the same way. It’s almost like Haibane Renmei in a way, once I got past the uncertainty of the first 3 episodes. To contrast, Someday’s Dreamers was a similar, slice-of-life show that was very fitting for a Summer viewing. Both, as you may remember, took place during summertime. The seasonal contrast is even a part of Someday’s Dreamers, as it was casually alluded to with Masami Oyamada’s magic powers and past circumstance.

There are other anime with a strong seasonal motif, too, but I think with slice-of-life type shows, it is ever front and center as the most powerful, intangible element to a show. Aria, for example, doesn’t distinguish what season it is even if it’s a visible element to the show–or rather, Summer in Venice is not like Summer in Neo Venezia–because it feels the same no matter what season it is. On the other hand, Kanon does winter right–it has to. There’s an element of play as well an element of sorrow, and I think Kanon captures that dynamic well.

Maybe the real trick is to create your own personal reality in a fantastical setting? I think Azumanga Daioh, which is much more personal to the average Japanese person in Japan than Aria, does a better job at doing seasons and feelings because it is something animation creators can relate to on a first-person basis. Which is to say, Haibane Renmei was all the more amazing as it’s spun only from its creator’s brain? Maybe. Asatte no Houkou could very well be the same, even if the setting is familiar.

Memory Problem & The Disposable Nature of Anime

Robotto no Houkou

I think I watch a lot of anime compared to the average. But I don’t remember a lot of it.

There are some celebrated moments that I will likely never forget. But for every one of those that I came across I would have walked tens and hundreds of miles of mediocrity; hours spent in front of some treadmill TV anime or another. It isn’t that I don’t remember what I saw, but it all blurs after a while.

Perhaps that’s why I started to blog–to capture that initial reaction and post-game summaries. That aside, though, I think it goes to why you watch a show and why not. Some anime are compelling page turners because while you are watching it, you are fulfilling its purpose of entertaining you. But how “deep” does this kind of entertainment get?

Of course, I think we need a wide variety of anime that entertain us in different ways. Nadesico is still my all-time favorite anime because it’s entertaining in many different ways, even if some of them are extrinsic (as in it’s something that I bring to the table). It’s fun to go all fanboy on a show with depth and cleverness.

But a cursory search of my own recollection reveals that some craptastic anime also get nods, too. Cyber Team in Akihabara, for one. The stock footage of the transformation  scene is burned in the back of my mind like a cheap CRT display at a department store, running 16 hours a day for years on end. Akahori Hour Love Game’s Love Pheromone is another example of the same, except that one is just LOLOLOL. But you probably won’t find other famous bits like “Pipipirupirupipipirupi” or “Hairdresser Lady vs. Outsider Criminal” in my mind, at least with a cursory search. Maybe I should just say, “I hate you, Akahori Satoru, for wasting my time and memory?”

Of course, the emotionally-charged scenes tend to stick. I, and many others, recall End of Evangelion for that reason. Millennium Actress was another one of those personally. I still remember my first trip with Magic Knight Rayearth. I’m not sure why that was so emotive aside from its crack-cocaine nature on minds unprepared. Cowboy Bebop was also full of these moments.

The real lament comes when I remember all these above-average affairs that just didn’t quite translate into timelessness. Ifurita’s performance in the original El Hazard OAV was probably the most superb, if still unmatched by later efforts, but can we say the same about Speed Grapher‘s Suitengu? We can agree that by 1987, Priss Asagiri was a special kind of heroine, but can we say the same about Robin Sena?

Especially when it comes to mecha anime in the post-Evangelion world. There are so many interesting pieces (Argento Soma, Betterman, Neo Ranga to name a few) but only a few of us will even care about them in relative to the rest of the world. Those in the know will keep looking for more of the same, but the impressionable mass of people will likely to skip and move onto the next fan clamoring.

And fan clamoring is, indeed, where it’s at. Suzumiya Haruhi was by all accounts a fairly normal (save for a couple not-so-special exceptions) anime airing in spring of 2006, with very little hype before its debut. It was a perfect storm by all accounts in how it took the fan scene. Why do people watch Naruto again? Why do people care so much about it?

If anime is a dialog between anime creators, maybe this would all make sense. But in some ways it is, and it it still doesn’t. I suppose it’s probably better to say that some anime is a part of an ongoing dialog, and others are just marketing tools to sell franchises and move books; still anime creators may nonetheless choose to do something interesting in their limited capacities. Cheers up to Tsuyokiss, Gun Parade March, and Shinichi Watanabe!

Rabid Kanon Fans Blow Hot Air or Illogical Harem Hate

To really do Kanon and Air, as two franchises, justice, we really need a solid footing in history. It just makes no sense to head into it without getting your bearings right. Sadly, I’m not sure if I’m qualified to even try.

Well. I did try, but after writing a few paragraphs I realized it’s futile to explain it in detail. It’s beyond me. Instead, let me just be brief and sweet.

Kanon is about the girls, their stories, and the fable feel in that fantasy winter wonderland. Or winter tragicland. It’s enough, more than enough, to gather its own fans just based on the merits of Kyoani’s animated adaptation alone. The power of moe transcends petty franchise labels, after all.

Older Kanon fans, either from the Toei era or from the original uproar of Key‘s success, will enjoy the new anime just like how the fans do. I’m not sure what that means, but just seeing Mariko Kouda back in action (older, mellower, and more moe!) is enough to send me to that winter wonderland. It probably vary between each fan, and you know the drill.

But to compare it to Air? Sure, you can, but there’s so much one could say about the two beyond the superficial. In fact, you really have to get to the root of both adaptations: that they were sister games in a true sense. Kanon was a proof of concept, and Air is more radical and original which came at the wake of Kanon’s success. It shows in the nonlinear storytelling. It shows in the choice of narrative devices. it shows in the simplicity.

These fundamental differences surface in their adaptions. Kanon was by all means a straight-up harem, and Kyoani’s Kanon currently is just that. It’s no surprise people who are, for one reason or another, coming to be allergic to harems generally “don’t get it” why so many of their equally-jaded fellow fans like it.

The moral of the story, I guess, is to read Wikipedia. It’s common to mock Kanon as an eroge, but that’s kind of like laughing at Michael Jackson as a man with black skin–you could, but it betrays a good-faith understanding of the situation. It’s stupid and ignorant. It’s also a little disingenuous to compare Kanon and Air just on the grounds that one is really a harem and the other isn’t really a harem. There are probably a lot of great insights we can gleam from such an exercise, but we got to go deeper to grasp it.

Analysis GET!

Sing Like You Want to Win – Animesuki Edition

It’s a while, but the sixth annual Animesuki karaoke competition is taking entries until the 29th. The contest will “showcase” by a live streaming of all the entries. This year they even have a separate site all set up for it.

It’s one thing that if I submit something (I probably will), but I think it’ll be fun if you can also get a lot of other people to terrorize a captive audiencejoin the fun. The particular format of streaming audio, mixing bad entries with good ones…a disaster in the making!

Of course, it’s just fun to also participate in good faith, because I sure would like to hear JAL sing! And I know I’m not the only one.

Actually, if you read this blog and is participating, I want to know! It’s just more fun to do it as a community, like the AS forum folks do.