Category Archives: Kara no Kyoukai

Year in Review: Team Iri Wear Pants – Comedy Reigns in 2011

If Mawaru Penguindrum can be explained by the transfer of fates via the vehicle of an allegorical apple, then Fate/Zero can be explained by the wearing and ownership of pants. The idea here is that, well, what did Rider work to get? What did Saber wear? What did Iri wear? In Urobuchi’s world, people wear pants. I mean that is typically what happens during winter in Japan anyway. Without spoiling it for you, the winner of the Holy Grail War this time also wear pants. All who survived as participants wore pants. Pants is clearly necessary for survival in the Holy Grail War.


I’m going to say that 2011 is the return of the comedy. There were a lot of funny shows in 2010, but it feels like the funnies have for the most part stayed for the year as well. What is notable is seeing more of it in serious shows. I think if OreTsuba can bust my guts laughing, anything can. The potential is there.

I mean, talking about Mawaru Penguindrum again, was it funny? It isn’t epic funny like those Nanami episodes in Utena, but there were good chuckles all along the way. And man, Ringo. Ringo!

I watched Nichijou and Sket-Dance this year, so that may have skewed things. I think Hanasaku Iroha sometimes is really funny, although I don’t think some of those instances were intentional.

Working!! returned, which is usually solid for a few laughs. Bakatest, too, had some really big ones, despite season 2’s more somber tone. Squid Girl S2 also was solid, again. Majikoi and Horizon had laughs, and the latter is as serious as Fate/Zero is. Haganai, for the most part, was still funny. Oh wait, I’m suppose to laugh at the manual stereo mage orbit talk was I?

R-15 was pretty funny, despite being more hetare-funny half the time. Twin Angel was all hetare-funny all the time (but it wasn’t THAT funny unfortunately). Yuruyuri had a couple gut-busters, which is pretty surprising. And in 2011 we learned the true meaning of being a mage.

Going back to the start of the year, we did have Mitsudomoe S2 (which was pretty funny for the most part). OreImo True End was funny enough. Level-E was epic. And, well, there was Qwaser S2.

Looking back I think I ended up watching more comedies this year than what is fairly represented, but that is probably because they didn’t suck, like, say, in 2009.


This year I read both the fan-translated Kara no Kyoukai series and fan-translated Fate/Zero series. They are available here and here, respectively.

As a result, over large stretches of 2011 my mind is full of Type-Moon-ness. It is like a keg of kerosene to react to some spark from Type-Moon. But Fate/Zero isn’t that spark.

Carnival Phantasm is that spark that blew my mind. I’m not too sure what to make of it besides that I have to fight that urge to import the whole thing. Because it doesn’t seem to make sense especially since I missed the boat on all that Take-Moon stuff way back when. I mean this is before Fate/Zero, sorta, and Fate/Zero’s been around the block once or twice already.

There is so much that goes on in that show. The visuals are engrossing and varied. It is funny. What the hell is going on? I don’t know. Does it matter? Not really.

The only regret left is that Fate/Zero content is not represented in Take-Moon, and thus missing in Carnival Phantasm. I mean, take a look at this to get an idea.

PS. #cp_dateall ftw.


Akasha, Religion And Chair

In the middle of a discussion about what makes for “chuunibyou,” I thought about Nasu’s… Nasuverse. In that world, mages are people who take magecraft like a trade: you have teachers, craftsmen, unions and guilds, rivals, people who do it for fun, people who do it for profit, and people who do it for the hell of it. You have artists and salarymen, parents, children, and heroic spirits. Swords and sorcery? People who are dead because they are killed? People who are the bones of their swords? It’s, in a word, chuunibyou to a tee.

But in that silly world-creation exercise, Nasu laid down some foundations that I particularly like in this kind of setting. It’s a bit like Fuyumi Ono’s Twelve Kingdoms, where the laws of the world are absolute; Gods and emperors speak with not so much authority but with reality-bending, “let there be light” powers. I like that sort of thing.

The cool thing about Nasu’s magecraft is in its adherence and pursuit of the akasha, or the origin. In a way, the attempt to understand Nasuverse’s notion of origin is just like a mage’s pursuit of understanding of origin of humans and the world, existence in general. [Cynical: both are fraught with irregularities and illogical examples!]  The cute thing (and adding to its middle-schooler-illness) is that the notion is not original. I just think it’s a beautiful parallel to the act of introspection: when we examine deep within ourselves, conflict invariably will emerge. When mages fight each other in Nasu’s universe, it is a clash of different origins, cloaked by the personalities, motives and external reasons (eg., fate) behind these conflicts. These conflicts are external manifestation of internal turmoil. These conflicts are thematic.

Because, after all, the darkness inside of ourselves is the one that brings about the most enduring and endearing conflicts. Tsundere, I’m looking at you.

The other neat thing is that this is a central concept that perpetrates consistently across all of Nasuverse. In a way it feels like those Tolkein-style students of arcane magic, living inside their towers, honing their art. It just has taken a 21st century turn of events. And of course, these Nasu-mages are hardly anything akin to a D&D mage in practice. It’s the thin veneer that keeps his works at least somewhat credible, sure, but I appreciate at least the consistency.

The way I model these things in my mind is kind of how I look at, say, how one could reconcile religion with anime. For example, Mike’s the real deal. And I find it an uplifting testimony to read. It’s more about us than the anime that we watch. It may be reasonable to say that Nasu’s writing is horrible (I don’t know, I can’t tell anyways), but it resounds with others, with a purpose, so it is fine. I see it specifically in pursuit of science. It, too, revolves around the notion that we are students of the world; we are learners, not teachers. Because we know we don’t know, it is why we do these things. It is why GlaDOS gets away with the things she does. It is why Academy City exists. It is why we pursuit the study of the world. Scientists are eternal newbies: that’s where the action is, that’s where the new revelation is, that is where the new science happens. It is driven by the same budding curiosity and imaginative power that makes Steins;Gate an amusing watch on principle. In other words, it is the same force which powers chuunibyou bubble. Scientists, too, are just human beings with all the contradictions humans have, seeking the origin of all things.

Times like this I wonder if THIS CHAIR is just a reference to AI development.

Kara no Kyoukai BD: Rank, Region and Control

So, some tidbits about Kara no Kyoukai BD box. I’m not sure why I’m so hyped on it, but it reminds me of last year’s True Tears ordeal. At least this time I know this isn’t a 720i (pardon the terminology) release…

RightStuf is listing the item as US and Canada only, with limited quantities. That is code for things like:

  • They’re not selling it to Japan.
  • They’re still going to ship to the UK and other locales west of the Pacific. For my English-language brethren elsewhere, good luck?
  • This is not a localized production but a hijack of a set of the Japanese print run, so once it’s out it’s out.

Why “US and Canada” I don’t know, but I suspect they are just playing it safe about being able to deny people of other countries from buying it (if it comes to that). Why do I know this? Well we all assume part of this deal with RS (and Bandai’s US store) is out of reverse import fears (though at $400 that’s not much of a difference) , the rest I know from hearsay. Don’t we believe everything we read on the internets?

Well another possible reason why “US and Canada” is because they don’t want to enumerate every country they want to sell to; or vice versa, in order to avoid pissing off their home customers. If I was writing that up at RS, I would be like, uh, let’s be pretty tongue in cheek about this.

While I don’t know how I can link to it, I also confirm that at one point Rakkyo box made it to RightStuf’s top 10 weekly preorders, the week after it came live on the site. As of this writing it is #2 on the RS top BD list. It looks like a lot of people took the bait over Christmas. Does this mean we will still only see 40 units sold and Aniplex of America explode like a flaming effigy made of explosives, I have no clue. And I’m not entirely sarcastic: RightStuf is a place a lot of hardcore collectors go to buy their BDs, but the US anime BD scene is not exactly replete of stuff off of the shelf. I mean, FLCL is not even out yet (that one is doing pretty well at #4 on RS’s top 10) so I’m thinking the count for that category is going to be low to begin with. Can we use Eva 2.22’s sales as a marker? that’s #7. Or how about that delicious FMA Brotherhood sandwich at #6 and #1? Or the fact that pr0n, especially exploding acid boobs pr0n, sells (Queen’s Blade BD at #5)?

But surely the fact that it can rank that high on that list probably says something. Something about rich people and their fig newtons or some such.

PS. Since this is like an AoDVD research post, let’s go all the way: Chris B. has posted his reviews of the thing. Because he doesn’t post BD caps (and refuses to because “this is a check disk”) you can read it mostly for technical completeness (“hey it does have 5.1 PCM”) and for his anime reviewer’s function. Well he’s always been a pretty easy critic when it comes to content and he finds Rakkyo, as a whole package, completely compelling. Of course he is also one of the very, very few reviewers (if not the only?) for anime that goes at it with the full glorified visual experience, rather than a more conservative and, dare I say, manga-esqe, take on story and content. For AVhogs like me his review provides that juicy technical information that I want to know, as I am already sold on the content.

Asking John about Kara no Kyoukai

Ask John about Kara no Kyoukai, and he will give you actually a fairly balanced view of things, if a little too retail oriented.

I don’t know if he is right or wrong about the nature of American otaku and how the Rakkyo series fits it. I personally believe that he is probably spot on to compare Rakkyo with Oshii, but how many times did he use the word pretense? I mean who am I? Some self-titled anime expert? Who doesn’t even know ‘Rakkyo’? I mean it’s on freaking Wikipedia. Not a lot of people liked Innocence, as far as I can tell. Basically, I think it’s too off the beaten path even in America. What sold in the 80s and 90s was not what ROD OAV was.

He dotes on Chapter 3, which is the MAGARE episode in which Shiki performs an appendectomy. Well, actually, she kills the infection, not the appendix. Which sums up my opinion of episode 3. Certainly however I can see why someone would like it; the episode itself is well put-together and unlike Chapter 7, the viewer is not left in some kind of overwrought suspense and Mamiko Noto carries a strong performance both as victim and villain.

However obviously Aniplex thinks Chapter 5 is the one that everyone will like, as demonstrated at Anime Boston last year. I don’t blame them, Chapter 3 is a little bit too “otaku-poi” in a similar vein as Chapter 6 (which John also likes, besides the lack of epic fights). Chapter 5 features bleed-through pretentiousness, all the way down to its nonlinear narrative and strange showdown in the last 30 minutes of the movie. But when we’re watching cartoon porn instead of realistic porn, I think pretension is a sought-after quality and we shouldn’t make any pretense about it. The only difference is how one executes such pretentiousness so that critics like John will reach for another page in their biological thesaurus.

Perhaps the bigger issue with this that I’m trying to say is more about our perception (heh talking about perception in a Rakkyo thread) of what anime ought to be. I mean I think what I said applies to a lot of ambitious works, that at some level those works have to pretend. So why get stuck on that? Talk about execution instead. And I think good anime always executes. Those shows talk the talk but also walk the walk.

Which goes back to my assertion about what American fans like–I think a lot of the time we like shows that do neither talking nor walking. Because that’s the least pretentious of them all, and maybe that is the root problem. And when you get someone taking down on shows that aspire to be better as inferior to those who don’t even try, it’s just incredible.