Monthly Archives: March 2007

Red Garden Salad

She's not Alice

Red Garden is a very much, mixed bag. To get it out of the way, you should know that the 22-episode TV run does not resolve the story entirely, and it continues on in OAV form slated for August of this year.

But I think I was pretty satisfied with the run. It didn’t stray from my expectations, and it was an entertaining climb to the climax when the series shifted gears at around the half-way mark (accompanied by a new ending that clued us in as to its theme).

Actually, if I had to draw comparisons to Red Garden, it would be with Gilgamesh. If you enjoyed Gilgamesh, you probably will enjoy Red Garden as well, I guess; the persona of Kiyoko is split amongst our four protagonists, and you get the Countess in all of the female cast put together.

But unlike its post-apocalyptic slosh of Babylonian decadency, Red Garden paints a very…weird picture of upper-class NYC urban utopia? I suppose having first and second-hand experience with a lot of the stuff in the show makes me look at it with a particular bias, but I think it’s quite safe to say that don’t believe a thing from Red Garden that actually is true in New York. Heck, I’m not even sure they got Coney Island right, and that they can just mimic from actual films!

Aside from the general dysfunction and failure for a Japanese anime to mimic American urban life (looks like they just used Tokyo urban life for the average Japanese and added a few NY quirks to it), the show has a bit of pacing problem. Part of it comes from its unusual homage to musicals, music, and the dramatic. For one, what the hell was with breaking into songs in the first 4 episodes? I guess, sure, music does play a big part in the show, in setting the mood, in cluing us in from the OP and ED themes, and some of it is even substantive (like in episode 23), but…? I don’t get it.

Well, enough slamming. I thought the show ended much like how a classic tragedy would. Once they opened up the can of feuding clans and ancient curses, I didn’t expected much aside from a classic, Shakespearean brawl (complete with tragic dying speeches) to put it to an end. It was amusing, it was dramatic, it was a bit of a farce (but not as bad as Gilgamesh), and it was solid entertainment. Nothing less for Tomohiro Yamashita I guess.

And not only that, it’s well-decorated. The JP site has some sets and designs for you to browse through. Just how many outfits did Claire go through in 22 episodes? God knows. I can really dig some of those Homepage illustrations though… Hrm.

Straight Flush

Putting Manabi Straight behind is like putting behind a very heartful conviction behind you; it’s just not healthy. Instead, I think, it’s a good way to do it is to commemorate it through rewatching :)

The thankful, yet unfortunate fansubbing effort is a good way to do it, and for every episode that I rewatch I can spend more time picking up things I missed the first time. I think one of these days I gotta start from episode 1 again just to relive the experience full well knowing the full revelation.

Hopefully the new season of shows will match the joy I get from watching this charming little thing.

But before the spring season hits and Haruhi Suzumiya on your screen turns a year old, this is a very good way to end a full run of 4 seasons; from one high school life to another. In some sense this is the “unappreciated” gem of last season, but I don’t know how many people can appreciate this kind of show. It’s going on my all-time favorites list!

Yukari: A Stylish Rocket Girl

I don’t know how hard it is to tell geography by visuals when you’re in low earth orbit, but Yukari can do it. For some reason I got the impression that it is rather hard? For one, you don’t look at things north-up.

Eri Sendai’s performance as Yukari Morita in Rocket Girls is strangely familiar with a pinch of indignity and mild irritation. It took a while for me to find why but I narrowed it down to her role as Yuuhi from Neo Ranga. And in some ways, the mean streak continues on with Yukari when she fights and consents to the various trials and strangeness that makes a high schooler going into space something to be taken slightly more seriously (than not at all). More than a bunch of washed-up idol singers, at any rate.

But in exchange, maybe Matsuri should be in Wadaba Style instead? Maybe Rocket Girls should make reference to Lisa Nowak? Anime fans like determined girls with a streak of insanity, I suppose?

In some ways all of this pseudo low-tech sci-fi gets on my nerves like a confused bee grazing under a blooming Spring sky. Is it like Gundam? As in, an event several decades ago that changed the minds of the animators and creators forever? Are we bridging that gender gap? My parents saw the momentous Apollo 11 landing broadcast live across the world and told me about it when I got older, and most of you reading this blog probably hasn’t, or too young to remember. Is it just a staple genre that old Japanese guys buy to remind them the memories of fascination and dreams they had as children? I don’t know.

UFOTable Does Ending Right

The end is the beginning


I can’t say if Manabi Straight! is the best thing since Sliced Bread (and I can’t recommend it to you unless I know a little about you), but it sure finishes well.

I haven’t been more so gratified by an end to a TV anime for as far as I can remember. It isn’t even a matter of expectation–I expected UFOTable to deliver–it’s just so sweet and it hits the spot so squarely on, that I even put off my original post for today just so I can splooge here.

Signs of Trouble

A couple years ago, Otakon had announced a “sign” policy that regulates the use and display of signs within the convention by the con-goers. This is particularly amusing if you read about that without any idea how it was at Otakon, and twice more if you do.

And for the most part, it’s something of just trivial, passing interest.

Said trivial, passing interest came to mind when I read that one US Supreme Court oral argument transcript about signs at a school. It’s in the local news this past week, and the long and short of it is that some student held up a 14-foot banner saying “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” during a school assembly to watch the passing of the Olympic torch in Alaska.

During the oral argument, the various Supreme Court Justices pitched hypothetical to illustrate their points about managing kids in schools, First Amendment issues, and to test the possible ruling they are considering. Expectedly, there were some good ones. I think Justice Scalia’s “bong sign” comment wins them all, but it just occured to me that these signs are, depending on context, possibly very, very funny things. It’s like, a non-computer representation of a funny image, printed on something.


And then Otakon came to mind. Otakon 2004(?) was when the signs went crazy. Walking through the main exhibit hall corridors at the right time of day on Saturday means you probably saw like a hundred signs, many of them small and crude, plastered on walls or held up by random idling people. Most of them are pretty stupid things telling you the nature of fandom and what it means to be a fangirl or fanboy; who needs no pocky or glomping. Whatever. That year Otakon hit 20000+ in attendees, if I recall correctly, so it was a bit out of hands.

But does that infringes free speech? Naturally the BCC (and most other con hosts) are private locations, so at the very least, US laws allow the private organizations to arrange and manage things like sign usage when it’s on private property, as opposed to public schools.

Nonetheless free speech is an issue. Perhaps not so serious, but most anime cons in the US still screen fansubs; panelists and attendees exhort all kinds of crazy opinions that do not reflect the organizations that host these panels. The expression of people with signs are mostly harmless, but can be a public nuance if they become fire hazards or create litter. Still, if you really want to be glomped, there’s no reason to not let other people know about it, I think. I guess as much as I might regret saying it, signs (when responsibly used) exhibits individuality and personality and adds a lot more to cons, in the same ways cosplayers and live performances in the halls do, and gives it flavor. Perhaps it’s another story as to if signs can be responsibly used, and what that means.

To me anime cons are valuable as a exhibition and expression of fandom. On top of being a consumerist orgy of niche retail products and a giant networking opportunity, it’s a precious expression of freedom of speech and the freedom of people being who they want to be. Retarded kids need be policed by con management, yes, but what’s lost is not insignificant.