Category Archives: [C]: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

Year in Review: N-Listing

So, the tradition continues. 12 lists of 12 things. Some are ranked, others are not. One this year is not ranked but merely numerated.

Continue reading

C Almost Misses the Point

I think one of the most problematic thing that differentiates America and Japan in their economies is the nature of the entrepreneurship. I think C ([C]: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control is by far the worst title this season, worse than the anime from that day whose name that I still couldn’t remember) has it right by bringing on board an entrepreneur as the person who turns around Kimimaro.

But at the same time, I think this is fundamentally a cultural problem. Take this anecdote for example, where a Silicon Valley type asks a room full of Singaporean MBA students if they want to start their own business.

It’s even worse in Japan.

The problem isn’t so much that few want to start their own businesses; that is fine if the number of business in the economy generally is stable. But with mergers and boom-bust cycles, there will to be times when the economic condition is favorable and encourages new entries into existing markets. That is how an economy grow. Under such circumstances, the business culture has to be one that tolerates failure. Because for each healthy harvest of new and successful businesses, there will be a multitude more of failed ventures; that is always going to be the case. If people are afraid or can’t afford to fail, new businesses are not going to be developed, or at least not at the optimal rate. That has has long term and negative consequences.

I thought this was kind of glossed over in C. It is by far the biggest problem–how else can you empower a lost generation, if that generation is only seeking to plug itself into the existing machine that has long since favored the established? I think the show does a good job covering that alternative perspective, but it doesn’t explain the incentives behind it; it’s too busy talking about philosophical pokemon nonsense than the economic realities of things. Change will never come fast enough that way. To compare C to its companion piece, Eden of the East, I thought Eden made a lot more sense in terms of providing a real point of discussion. You have basically the establishment playing against a, heh, internet startup. We’re talking about how to empower a lost generation, rather than magically putting that generation of people in some magic vacuum.

Perhaps, rather, I am more discontent with C for not offering an answer. I’ll avoid the spoiler here, but the ending was more hilarious than credible. Monetary policy is a complicated game and while C entertains a particular outcome that happened to also be entertaining, it kind of lacks that raw edge, that anger, again, that was full of in Speed Grapher’s climax. I keep going back to Speed Grapher because the overall idea between the two are the same. C just cultivates its supernatural settings based on real social issues, where as Speed Grapher exaggerates and turns them into way fantastic things. [Maybe a Shintoist sort of way?]  Speed Grapher talked about things that are beyond any notion of realism, but yet evokes emotions.

(And of course, C pays homage to the ultimate concept in Speed Grapher too. C  kind of makes fun of it, as we should.)

Because, let’s put it this way: regardless if Souichirou is a sympathetic antagonist or not, he is just outright wrong. He represents the philosophies and policy positions plaguing Japan in a big way, as posited by the story. I mean if they’re trying to put that idea down gently, they’re doing it wrong–not because it isn’t a respectful put-down, but they aren’t putting it down enough.

Rational discussion is wonderful; but it lacks the outrage that powers a real change of regime. And without that anger, that discontent, the metamorphosis of despair into outrage, greed will continue to trample over justice.

My other disappointment is that other than the first couple episodes, it didn’t really do much in terms of exploiting the short-sighted nature of greed. It’s a fundamental driving force behind bad ideas!

I don’t think I do the show justice, that said. C is definitely a worthy piece if you want to talk about Japan’s view of the outside world, in a way that connects with its fellow citizens. Personally I wanted C to challenge the notion of the nature of the global economy. Japan’s economic problems, after all, are not Japan’s problem alone. Pardon the light spoiler, rather than think of C as a tsunami that gets bounced back and forth (which is an apt metaphor in a lot of ways, and perhaps a bigger fear factor to a Japanese audience), in real life it would manifest more like a slow-acting disease.

With all of that out of the way, I thought C was way above expectations for a Pokemon-for-adults anime. I guess that’s damning via faint praise, but I went away entertained, even if the two “horny” girls were a big part of the fun equation. It’s a good watch to get some insights into problems in vogue within Japan’s domestic dialog. The animation is creative, but a little too nonsensical; the designs, cinematics and artistic direction are full of impact, except I’m not sure what those things impacted besides a grounded understanding of C.

I’m still waiting for them to do a big reveal with Msyu to give it more of a human touch. It would have made an awesome epilogue. Instead we get this weird scene between two people who may be blood related. OKAY JAPAN. I mean I could read Mikuni’s motivation and trauma as an extension of his feeling of protectiveness and adoration for his sister, but like, isn’t that just imouto moe? So imouto moe is killing Japan? (Pure imouto moe in OreTsuba discourse.) And back-to-the-nonexistent-future imouto moe is the cure? Maybe you don’t have anything to stand on to criticize Speed Grapher after all, C.

Questions about C

When Kamiyama was visiting USA last year, he asked about how people find Eden of the East interesting. I think there are a lot of stuff that is attractive about Eden, but I think he was going for the whole social commentary thing.

C, in some ways, is the exactly the same thing. Granted this season it was John Titor doing a Juiz impression rather than Msyu, but this Noitamina show does not beat around the bush. In fact episode 8 was probably over the top trying to show us what is wrong with Japan, it is all but short of saying it outright. (Which is fine, the premise and execution is somewhat over the top to begin with.)

I would not have imagined to use virtual Pokemon battles to illustrate the concept of “you don’t know what you’ve lost until you’ve lost it” in a thousand years. At least some money got burned (and it is better than Speed Grapher already, because they explain how that is meaningless), and we’re not even half way through!

What I have questions for is what Kamiyama would have questions for: Just what do you think C is about? I mean unless you’ve read about this or learned about the bigger financial and social ills facing Japan’s future, does this show even make sense?

It’s kind of amusing in that in America, you could say there are Democrats and Republicans; in Japan, they’re still trying to completely set up a 2-party thing; it’s still “the Established” and the rest. I wonder why this is not as much the case for the American economy (well…). Maybe it really is because we have sex more; that we procreate and Americans actually allow permanent immigration in large(r) volumes unlike xenophobic Japan (and I guess people actually want to move to the US). That it has been through the crucible of racial integration for the past 200 years (and still is in it)? I don’t know how it plays out.

Which makes me think: anime? Really? Shouldn’t you be trying for a wider medium than a 2am TV show made for otaku? I mean there’s something empowering to be said about seeing the big picture, and how otaku are often part of this “lost generation” as illustrated plainly by Eden. I just don’t know what context to take it in. I suppose anime and manga has always been on the forefront of some pretty controversial stuff in modern Japan. Now it’s just doing a little dance.

Except it also feels kind of exploitative, given how anime/media-mix projects are financed and who are the ultimate paying customers. Irony in a capitalist society is something we can’t avoid, isn’t it.