Category Archives: Suzumiya Haruhi no Uuutsu

Channeling Suzumiya Haruhi Episode Twelve

Kingdom Come

Take me to your leader, the purveyer of all things loli and heart.

Take me to your shelter, where Akari won’t be shushed for saying embarassing things.

Take me under your wings, once I score enough points on your web game.

Take me to the great healer, one look at Momo heals all ills.

Take me to your drummer, because she’s pretty funny. And funny drummers are an important part to all good live bands. (It’s funny, because the “bands”that I work with are on the same level as these guys, and I see similarities.)

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

And for making Manabi Straight episode 11 a bigger wish fulfilment than all of Kyoani’s Kanon will ever be. It cured me of my Kanon blues, and it’ll cure you too.

Looking at Anime in More Ways than One

I’ve been swamped with work lately, and the Burning Crusade makes it even more difficult to put in some quality think time about this whole deal, let along writing it. I have some ideas floating around that I failed to write down, but just as well ideas that I did. Like that excuse that I just wrote down about work and gaming.

Sort of to bounce off on the Futakoi Alternative bad rap: just as we all hate to be bored while watching anime as a way to entertain ourselves, we hate it when the anime “goes out of bound”. In saying so I’m trying construct a framework to explain how I see anime–that I put on different hats watching different shows.

I’ll go through some example to explain.

Tweeny Witches. This is a curious little show that is full of visual flare and in a way it oozes a lot of “coolness.” But like Studio 4C’s shorts you have to take them straight on. In some sense you can live without the subtext and background information that the equally visceral Satoshi Kon works live within, but unlike those things Tweeny Witches is asking its viewer to be ready for it, rather than trying to ease you into it more casually. As 9-minute TV episodes, it might be kind of hard to do that.

OTOH, a thing like Paprika, because it is a feature film, means its viewers enter it with the mindset of “it’s a film.” They are not only prepared, the format itself demands a tight, timely package of the full narrative experience. You don’t need a hook as much as a serialized publication would. You’re truly looking for an experience.

It’s an entirely different thing than Zero no Tsukaima. I don’t even know if just calling both “anime” reveals all there is that the two share–the basic, medium-sensitive natures of the shows. Perhaps in a greater, “modern visual cultural” context they are together like Jessica Simpson and Colin Powell are both widely-recognized names in American culture. A rigorous dissection quickly reduces Zero as a parade of troupes hung on the skeleton of a simple yet charming juvenile high-fantasy. And because this is so, it is easy to enjoy and require little effort otherwise.

A little more can be said of something closely related, Suzumiya Haruhi no Uuutsu. What it has over Zero is rather unclear once deconstructed. Perhaps the best way to distinguish the two is in the hype and in the production quality: not only in the animation but in the direction, acting, and thoughtfulness to details. It goes farther to bring you more than just the same, tried tale using the same tried devices, even if it does that for a good bit. Perhaps the “Kyon order” of the story is its greatest blessing.

And there is more. Mushishi was a big thing for me. It’s a well-crafted show (although still using some common troupes, despite unusual for an anime) because it manages to package something very good around a form that I normally dislike in a way that I do like. The catch here is that while you can enjoy Mushishi as casual enjoyment, you have to be in the mood, so to speak. To me what makes Mushishi special, aside from the production value and submergence, is what it actually is–a consistent unfolding of themes upon human imperfection resulting from a lack of understanding, but ultimately bound by the ties that makes men and women who they are. Still, what is troublesome is the unwrapping–for the longest time I cannot just sit down and watch this show, even amply prepared.

I wondered why. I think aside from my own personal nitpickery and strangeness, I felt I just had to be in a certain state of mind, with a certain amount of empathy mixed with apathy. A show like Black Lagoon did well for me because it works both when I am emo-blue as well as when I’m cackling with glee. The show itself is a mix of many different things, and while the inconsistency can be a bit off-putting for someone looking for just one thing, it manages to deliver plenty of, well, a lot.

On the flip side is Futakoi Alternative. To make no mistake, it has great production values. However it’s also a little dry, it suffers from having too little spanned across too much time. The direction is also more fitting of a film format even if it took advantage of the serialized, TV format in some of the episodes, to deliver that slice-of-life feel. A lot of the show worked, but a lot of it didn’t either. It gave us a variety of things, but I don’t know if those things worked well together.

Just like some shows are seasonal, some are equally best-tasted when you’re in the right state of mind. For some, it may means until they’re old and tired; some when fresh and not jaded. Others still just needs to have a fresh day to look forward to, or with the right company.

She Is Hawt, Attack Run, Merry Christmas

Adult Swim's Manhattan Billboard off 7th

That fuzzy road sign to the right corner says “West 34th St.”

If you’re familiar with American traditions, you’d know that New York City is a special place to be this time of the year. To me most of that magic is nonexistent, or rather, disassociated with the holiday season as much as just what happens. The city is lit up with lights, new store displays, multitudes of shoppers and tourists, and there’s the brisk, biting Arctic air. I think if any one of those is missing, it’s just isn’t the same. Because this happens every year, and pretty much I make at least one run during the holiday season, it is just a matter of course.

But this time there was no biting Arctic air. I really missed that.

Walking around midtown hot and bothered, I turned to the thought of Patricia Jaa Lee and her Haruhi “LOL I am playing Haruhi” job in the viral promotional video. And yes, she is actually pretty hot. I thought she was just a typical young actress back during her Power Ranger days (about 8 years ago, so in her early 20s). If you know me well, you’ll know I almost never make these kinds of comments, out of some kind of progressive notion of feminism respect and that I just don’t feel comfortable sizing up real life girls that way. And to be honest, she isn’t THAT hot. But compare her to Aya Hirano is really comparing a typical voice actress with a typical Hollywood actress…and that’s who they are. In other words, no comparison, sirs. I think the candid camera aspect of the video also helped, but it’s a whole different class.

Now that I’ve returned with various loot (like Kanon 2002 OST 2…and a first print copy of Heaven’s Kitchen…and some Shiina Ringo CD…and a calendar and a gift). I’ll put my mind towards the effect of aging and improving a person’s skill in the useful arts. A lot of people may think ill of the lolicons especially with all this Hongfire talk. Why? It’s not that we just want to protect kids–that’s fine and all, but these people just have it wrong. It’s like suddenly there’s a group of people telling the world, for them, 2 plus 2 is 733.61. Sure, it doesn’t hurt anyone, and on their job application and exams they very well can pretend that they can add 2 to 2, but it’s all besides the point. Some amount of aging is good! People are like wine, sometimes, y’know? They get good, then turn sour.

Well, to be fair, let’s give Aya Hirano a few years. I think there’s still some promise there.

The Reason for the Season, or the Real Melancholy for Me

Social Anxiety Disorder?

If I haven’t made my Christian leanings clear to you yet, well, I probably won’t in this post.

I’m here to give thanks, in a way, and show some appreciation for the various people and entities that made this blog, this network of blogs, and all its readers and contributers stick together as a loosely associated community that, believe it or not, has meaningfully affected my life this past year. Doubly so for those who bear the brunt of my run-on sentences. Thank you.

But just thanking thankless fansubbers is not what I’m good at. If I were to dwell on that I’d quickly give into friendly jeering and mockery at our mutual detriment. Instead, I’m going to do it, with help with (and thanks to) Henry Jenkins, with a short article published in Reason Magazine.

Sure, when you boil it down, Jenkins’ article says nothing we fans haven’t heard of. It’s a rehash of the same argument I vaguely nodded to every time I debate about copyright and piracy’s empirical effects. Yet, at the same time it’s a celebration; it paints a concise picture to the historical example how a bunch of crazy retard fans paved the way for the fact that half of the anime blogs are chasing the disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi and its reappearence. Just why did sold out? Or ANN and Anime on DVD? I don’t know; but it’s only made possible through the road fansubbers have built.

Legal, illegal, ethical, unethical–that’s all besides the point. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to see eye to eye on the issue in all of its nitpickery details. I’m going to just say that copyright law is arcane and ambiguous to even lawyers; and unless you’ve given it a lot of thought and self-education it’s hard to make heads or tails out of it. In fact, that’s part of the problem–people don’t know what they’re doing, so we’re in this mess.

But as much as manufactured culture expands through the growth of industrial media and technology into the arena of everyday life, it’s only because people are living safer, healthier, wealthier, and more leisurely. The product of a society less bothered by the drudgery of the Nine-to-Five is a society freed from the chain of necessity as a bar to creativity. This society gives freer and appreciate more what they have been given (so I argue). We might think this newfound freedom disturbing, but America has had at least 40 years of experience in this culture revolution; Japan is still struggling seriously, along with much of East Asia, Middle East, and parts of South America. Places like China and India are only a decade or two behind. What’s troubling about this revolution is that it occurs in the meta–it isn’t what people do or say, but the framework, the mass-market behavior and trends, and how businesses conduct themselves to be profitable; and ultimately, how people think and react to certain stimulus 3 years ago just isn’t going to be the same 3 years in the future. It’s not just a new school of thought or a subject matter, but demolishing entire perspectives and challenging the fundamental ways we think. From Superstring Theory to understanding why YouTube is worth 1.6 billion dollars, all these things are revolutionary in varying degrees.

Copyright law is just one of the major battlefields in this changing society. For the first time ever fans can import foreign cultures through distributed subtitling efforts (well, save for those people who do all their fansubbing by themselves) and promote an information good to audiences wide and far. We’re no longer in the SVHS days, folks, even if that information model was first put together during that nostalgic period in my life. Cheap broadband, anime clubs and cons, and fun fun websites just made it so much more accessible and easy, arguably, for a little Palestinian girl.

I guess revolution and battlefield might be extreme and loaded words to use, but if you’ve got 10 minutes left after reading Jenkins’ article, spend it here and hear it from some Open Source folks worrying about just where our culture are going. It’s dated, and it’s for Open Source folks, but it characterizes what’s at stake very well.

Alternatively, you can chalk up my crying wolf to my own personal experience this past half year; I’ve read more on this topic than that is probably healthy. Lessig and his company of copyleftists make a variety of compelling arguments. But much like the internet, it’s hard to see how it all translates into our daily experience; yet likewise I’m sure whichever genius that does will profit greatly along with society generally. It is a source of melancholy.

Anime is here because it was made free. We are blessed; and it’s only natural to extend this blessing to those trapped still. Even if that means making a funny nod at the doujin culture in Japan, so be it. Thank you for partaking in this subconscious act of civil disobedience; no matter as a fan or a subber or just someone clamoring for attention. No matter if you’re ill-intended or well-intended, we’re all in this for the long haul.

Of a Dying 2006 Pancake Jamboree

This is the season to bake a cake
With our Queen of all pancakes
Her batter is first-rate
But one thing we all hate:
Skip her jam; your life, it’ll take.

Of the flame of wintry passions
Few hotter is an odd fusion
Of sickeningly cute “moe”
Mixed with a rarer, “moe”
An odd 萌え 燃え confusion?

Makoto, right before the snow
covers her, as if winter knows
that next year,
like every year,
again, memories anew will grow.

But what of tears under half a moon?
Of wishes undying, lovers swoon
to an eternal pledge
and they jump off the edge.
No, I’m not laughing at Black Lagoon.

But of kisses, war and boobs;
Fewer confuses more n00bs
than the trap gallery
on board the flying gallery
of Arctus Prima, the shoujo test tube.

Still there is no understatement
To fandom’s greatest testament
When the morning comes
And your alarm hums
Nayuki’s trademarked statement.

Still, it’s better to sing a song
Even if you get it all wrong
Like a undine
With a karaoke machine
to where the tone-deaf have gone.

If all of that is a pain
Then watch some Soukou no Strain
It’s serious as pie
And full of oppai
It belongs in its own domain.

But of wrecks this year
Perhaps none can possibly compare
To a sequel
With no equal
Because, she sang, life is a canvas.

And with a strong kiss, she landed.
Smitten, like heavy irony, candid
Of Paprika
As Hayashibara
Daughters of moe have commanded!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
When Renton did his flying round
For love
Kind of?
Death rained down all around.

If “pancake” was a code word
In this theater of the absurd
It’ll spoil the story
Of Jesus’ destiny
Savior of many, head of his herd.

Because we go to war over it
And idol singer acts for it
Awesome cameras
For positive otaku karma
Will FLAG as a banner, fit?

This deadly note must stop
But only because to slumber I drop
You can lament
In my comments
It’s a grand criticism swap.