Monthly Archives: January 2020

The Weather Girl, Weathering With You

Now that the United States is screening the latest Makoto Shinkai flick, we can dispense with the spoiler warnings and realize that thanks to the failed Oscar bid, Americans got nothing in return for waiting to watch Weathering With You, after the rest of the developed world have seen it. As I write this in late January, 2020, the movie has already been out since July 19, 2019, or half-year or so ago. Did you know how many times I’ve been to Japan since? Joke aside, we are long due this next installment of Shinkai’s usual bag of tricks.

As much as I find Shinkai’s love stories cloying at this point, I also see that his stories and ideas blossom most comfortably in that cloaking. Weathering With You did a serviceable job to get the audience to root for the two. The cast is colorful enough and they came together nicely. Shinjuku is wild on a rainy day, let along with rain magic (in context of the story) and even more rain magic (in context of Shinkai’s brand of animation). Add in some artistic urban decay, a funny car chase (uuuukeeeruuu), and Shinkai finally getting his anime directoral balls on (off? down?) in order to blow up Tokyo.

But that is not what makes Shikai’s movies resonate with me. Tenki no Ko wandered around the comfort zone a bit and gave us ambiguous characters with ambiguous internal struggles, and we were outside the comfort zone for much of the viewing. Perhaps it’s not by much, but we never knew exactly everything about Hina and Hodaka. Were they good people? They were just innocent young people. We watched over them with great interests, but will things turn out okay?

Which brings us to the ending. I loved this ending. I love it because, I think, it is saying something that I personally believe millennials need to hear. It is also admittedly a tad paternalistic. Maybe Shinkai is also being more Dad than ever (although he is still ways behind from Kamiyama in this regard). But, anyways, the message: in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Sure, the dramatic climax for Hina and Hodaka was how the couple decide to cope with Hina’s miko magic, in balance with their very wet problems. But it turns out just because Tokyo is underwater, life had no reason to stop going, so it does just keep going. And in truth those two things don’t really have anything to do with each other. Or rather, it is not the point at all if Hina survives or dies; it is the point that Hina and Hodaka live/lived as humans do. And to put a large exclamation point by sinking Tokyo is one great way to tap into that global warming energy for thematic empowerment.

I also think that’s exactly why a great message for people today. Pressure and anxiety about the future will do nothing to make things better in the future. Worrying will not add a day to your life. The challenges that face us as a society or race or as nations are always going to be daunting when we see them from an individual’s point of view. As individuals, only by making the right decisions and acting on them does anything moves forward at all–and we can’t do that unless our hearts are in the right place.

Weathering With You shows us the subtle difference between doing things out of love and doing things out of pressure, anxiety, fear, and stress. The characters themselves do these things at different points in the story, may it be Suga kicking Hodaka out to protect his legal status or pulling out a gun. Weathering With You makes a bunch of value statements, but it also shows that on the grand scale, humanity’s problems are fairly insignificant; that our day-to-day troubles are little in light of massive global shifts (like flooding tokyo), yet all the more, we can enjoy the little things. Well, instant meals and conbini food in Japan are no joke, so maybe it’s not as little as it seems?

In essence, it doesn’t matter if Hina can affect weather, or that Hodaka ran from his troubles, or that Natsumi aided a juvenile delinquent from police pursuit. The reaffirming message that focuses on doing well on each other is the funny way that we see the world upend itself, where we can finally divorce poetic justice from doing the right thing, because who knows what the future is really going to hold anyway? Isn’t doing the right thing its own reward? In a world going to hell in a handbasket, isn’t it nice to shrug off this chain of causality if we want to continue to encourage the next generation to do good; a generation of windmill-tilting idealists, working for ideals, not tit-for-tat, which is utmost good in a world with fewer tats left to work for. Your boomer relatives may have crap the bed, but it doesn’t really entitle the rest of us to behave a certain way, or any way. And that realization frees you (or in Hina’s case, Japanese ritual human sacrifices).

After the time-honored tradition of destroying Tokyo in anime, it is good to see Shinkai does it in a grand style. Between the lost generation and the cultural trauma of the post-war, does trauma really even matter anymore? I think that is the message, and to me this is the uplifting push and it exceeds the power of healing alone.

I’m rather endeared to the Japanese title of Weathering With You, which is simply Tenki no Ko (天気の子), similar to how Hina is referred to by randos online, looking at her web 2.0 vibe job listing. It also echos with me because the film was told from the perspective of Hodaka, the male lead, who in some ways does treat her simply like just another teenage love interest in another Shinkai love story. Yes, she’s that girl. Yes, he’s watching the world burn with her. There is no better way.

PS. Speaking of flying to Japan, some of you might have watched the Science Saru flick that is posed to open in the States in February, because it’s screening on ANA’s in-flight entertainment systems at least. In a lot of ways the same narrative language is used in that film too, so I think it would be fun to compare and contrast the two stories, both cloaked in a simple romantic shell.

PPS. Tenki no Ko seiyuu_joke is strong.

PPPS. I need to watch High School Fleet the Movie…

Seiyuu Guest Requests for North American Cons, 2019

Here is a quick and dirty (as they all are) translation on Anime Anime. I mean, click on the link there and read said translation. I will put a spin on the data below.

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Taiyou Con 2020: Wrap

This year my first anime con was literally the very first weekend of the year, down in the sunny Phoenix ‘burb of Mesa. This was the 10th Taiyou Con and very much like usual it was a low-key affair with a few guests that drew a small crowd, albeit some guests of great interest to me. Taiyou Con remained a small con, by most con standards, and that is to say I was able to take advantage of the size and laid-back nature of it all.

Somehow, Miyake Marie (Marietti) and Matsuzaki Rei (Reichama) came as a combo of sorts, from Pro-fit and Mausu, respectively. Each of them had their solo panels, an autograph session, and on Saturday they had a combined panel and combined autograph session. I mean, I guess this is because the con is run by a P, and I mean guess.

The rest of the con guests round out with two Japanese illustrators (courtesy of Sekai Project) Yukie and AmetoYuki; ProZD (who had to cancel half way into Friday due to a family emergency), and some VAs and cosers I don’t know. It all seems quite suitable for a con this size, other than somehow the seiyuu guests. Fact is far most cons of this type don’t get seiyuu guests, if even JP guests.

As far as Taiyou Con’s nuts and bolts go, it hasn’t changed much since I last attended in 2017. I’ll cover the main difference this year and go straight to the guest content and travelogue stuff.

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Blogger’s Plays on Words Delayed by 3 Months, to Burn Chidori RSC at Its End

Rifle Is Beautiful misses the mark.

I actually think he is more right than wrong, but Evirus wiffed: Rifle Is Beautiful hit a bull’s eye when it comes to portraying the high school attitude about beam rifling, both as an intramural and varsity exercise, and as human beings, trying to point a heavy light stick, at a tiny target, for a forty-five minute stretch.

In fact his attitude of it is a good example, classic even, of how “sports anime” ruins anime about sports. There is nothing to get excited about when it comes to the nationals with beam rifling; it’s goddamn beam rifling, folks! It’s not astoundingly clear, but it seemed fairly obvious that the purpose of the work is not to create a fiction that is actually about the excitement of moving on from regional to national. It’s pretty funny that he compares it to Girls und Panzer, I guess, but this is how western regurgitation out-of-context feels like.

This is probably just a problem about our postmodern society, where some dudes writing about Ueda Reina’s character don’t even get how beam rifling 4koma adaptations can really be actually about the subject matter, but coated in genres that have now wholly taken on new meanings in this century you do have to dig around to find what the story is actually about. On one hand, Chidori RSC is a Tonari no Young Jump property, which makes it into a weird kind of… webcomic, I guess. It feels more at home in Manga Time Kirara. Rifle Is Beautiful is also too true-to-real-life to be truly fiction–think about K-ON and how that resonate with people; despite it being a fuwa-fuwa, utopic fantasy that is too grounded in reality to get excited. That it is a 4koma comic about high school girls doing rather mundane (as mundane as beam rifling is I suppose) also make you think about what exactly is Rifle Is Beautiful is about. It is a depiction of reality through the “Kirara” lens, more so than any true fantasy; if there is a fantasy in Chidori RSC, it is that it is a bit too utopic.

And I think it is pretty clear–it would be uncouth, to say the least, to complain how it is”[f]ailing as a sports anime” as Rifle Is Beautiful’s biggest flaw, when the tension, the excitement and what makes quoting Sensa-do even sensible in his post is missing completely. It’s not in the source material either. I would conclude, then, it isn’t the point of the exercise; much like the vibe of official beam rifling meets. The vibe I get, at least based on watching the show, is more like walking into an exam room; you have 45 minutes to fill out 60 questions. That, is excruciatingly authentic. If anything, I watched this show to the (almost very) end is a great achievement and a pretty awesome demo on the power of anime and manga. Sure, at times it can be excruciatingly boring as well, but blame reality I guess. Actually I would imagine reality is still the more so tedious than this fictive depiction. I wasn’t really bored by it, but I can easily see some reasonable people being bored by it.

On the basis of its qualitative attributes, I have always thought Chidori RSC being a show in which a lot of people won’t like. Much like how in the upcoming 2020 Olympics, the only people excited about the Beam Rifle competitions are people who were always interested in Beam Rifling, and fans of Rifle Is Beautiful. It is a bad take to call something not fantastic enough for being too real about a thing basically nobody has ever been real about. I suppose we can criticise Chidori RSC for possibly failing to make a set of elements come together–story, characters, pacing, excitement, humor, whatever, but I think if the goal was to produce something life-like, cute, unusual & varied, and about the ins-and-outs of beam rifling and its ennui, I think we got it in spades.

(Sticky) Eventing: 2020

[Last updated: Oct 23, 2020]

Last year’s note here, my Eventernote here.

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