kaigou: Jung-In (Kim Jae-Wook) looking very please-no (1 oh dear heavens no)
Oh, wait, I do, it's because I think we've entered something like year nine of correspondence, so it's probably safe to say that [personal profile] branchandroot's influence on me is beyond dire, at this point. Hence watching the first 30-or-so episodes of GetBackers. Right. I know. Like a decade behind everyone else, but I guess Em can wear down even the most stubborn of dogs.

Currently it's on pause, while I watch Fate/Zero and then realize that maybe watching Fate/Stay_Night might help, which I'll probably fast-forward through all but the fight scenes, and only that so I can watch the OVA. And even then, only that because OVAs (usually) have higher budgets and therefore better fight scenes. And then I'll get back to the other, or maybe by then I'll just break down and read the manga.
kaigou: It's dangerous to go alone, Alphonse says, and holds out a cat: here, take this. (2 dangerous to go alone)
Well, No.6 is over. Le sigh. Great series, if you ignore the fact that a) it was too damn short, b) the final episode was one big honking deus (dea?) ex hornet, and c) it was too damn short. Now if someone would just translate the novels, there might be hope. (Note: not the same people who translated the 4th volume of Twelve Kingdoms, please. Or at least not the same copyeditor. Or maybe just make sure to hire a copyeditor, and not your neighbor's 10-yr-old.)

Break Blade finished a while back, but so incompletely and abruptly that I had to go digging to make sure it was really over. It might not be -- Production IG was going long and inconsistent gaps between hour-long OVA-like releases -- but it seems to be. Over, that is. And it ended on kind of a "well, uhm, let's end it here," note. Actually pretty disappointing, especially the way it sank in the last episode or two into the law of adaptations. I was hoping it'd hold out, but apparently not.

And Natsume Yuujinchou is now complete, but in three months the fourth season will begin. Woo, and may I add, hoo, although I'd have to say that if you'd asked me at the end of the first season, I never would've expected this series to continue. It's so episodic, with so much weight on character development over any truly over-arching arc, with limited bad guys (and oftentimes, no true 'bad' guys so much as opposing protagonists). It's so well-written and animated and voiced, that I would've expected it to remain a hidden, unappreciated jewel. Still. Waiting three months is gonna be hell.

Rambling commentary on finished series, dropped series, new series, and upcoming series. Expect several comfy chairs. )

Cripes. Three months until more Natsume.
kaigou: Jung-In (Kim Jae-Wook) looking very please-no (1 oh dear heavens no)
kifed from [personal profile] taithe:
1. List 10 or more fandom/series you're into
2. Your f-list will guess who's your fav. character(s) in each series

A hint: in any given story, there's a 66% chance my favorite will be a secondary character.
  1. tengen toppen gurren lagann - Viral
  2. spirited away - Haku
  3. mononoke - Kusuri-uri
  4. darker than black - Hei
  5. mushishi - the collector-doctor
  6. ookiku furikabutte - Azusa Hanai
  7. gundam wing - Heero
  8. natsume yuujinchou - Tanuma
  9. seirei no moribito - Balsa
  10. avatar the last airbender - Toph
  11. nurarihyon no mago - Grandpa
  12. fullmetal alchemist - Gen. Olivia Mira Armstrong
  13. kuroshitsuji - the Undertaker
  14. naruto - Neji
  15. kimi ni todoke - Chizuru Yoshida
  16. loveless - Natsuo/Youji (yes, I know, tie)
  17. twelve kingdoms - Enki
  18. no.6 - Nezumi
  19. tactics - Kantarou Ichinomiya
  20. gundam 00 - Haro
...and purely as a bonus for those rare few of you who also watch k-dramas, j-dramas, c-dramas, or tw-dramas but not anime:
  1. material queen (tw) - ChuMan
  2. my girlfriend is a gumiho (k) - MIHO!
  3. nobuta wa produce (j) - AKIRA SHOCK
  4. keizoku spec (j) - Toooooooooooda.
  5. black & white (tw) - Lan Xi Ying
  6. hong gil dong (k) - Hong Gil Dong
  7. bloody monday (j) - Otoya Kujō
  8. dalja's spring (k) - Wee Seon-joo
  9. sungkyunkwan scandal (k) - Gu Yong Ha
  10. boss (j) - BOSS. Of course.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (1 Sebastian smile)
First, for context: read [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist's The Second of our Reign at AO3 (Ciel/Sebastian, rated M for adult situations), or for gen, read Anorexia (the catfood overdub). For gen, read Phoebe's gleefully geek-law draft for The Phantomhive Cases: CERTIORARI TO THE HIGH COURT OF MINOS, or a bit of her comment!fic, both of which I really hope don't end there (and can see end up being intertwined, come to think of it).

And then, the discussion, gacked from PZ's post/replies, but repeated here in case anyone else can think of additional examples, counter-arguments, or other insights. It starts with Phoebe's reply to my review (posted on her journal, since AO3 doesn't give that option to non-members). Trimmed some where we regressed into flailing fandomness. (You can read the original on Phoebe's journal, if you want it unedited.)

Phoebe: They have so much fun being Ciel and Sebastian! Their official authors gave them multiple canons that are essentially curtain!fic, and these are characters who never get curtain!fic, not even from fans, let alone from canon. And so many glorious hints that can be extrapolated from, and what have to be deliberate inconsistencies to allow for getting around any bits of canon one doesn't find desirable! I still can barely believe the source even exists, it's such a match for all my private weirdnesses.

...is this actually a perfectly ordinary, stereotypical pair of characters in the broader anime/manga universe? I've seen and read just enough now to be used to some of the more common tropes: the beautiful villains with tragic pasts; the hot sociopath paired with, or obsessed with, the beautiful idealist who loves humanity; the nice, faintly ineffectual-on-the-surface guys who're brilliant and deadly in pursuit of their true agendas, but without ever losing their sweetness and awkwardness in any other situation. I haven't seen Ciel and Sebastian anywhere else, or at least, not in ways that are right upfront in the text, and don't need to be constructed from implications in canon; but that could be because I haven't seen or read very much. Have I missed dozens of instances of the same dynamic, do you think? Or is Kuroshitsuji genuinely doing something one doesn't see in every other work for this slice of the audience?

Kaigou: I don't veer [much] into shoujo and [never into] Clamptastic worlds, so there may be corners where you could find another Ciel or a Sebastian. But I can't think of too many where you'd find *both*. )

kaigou: fangirling so hard right now (3 fangirling so hard)
I have seen the HD trailer for the new Avatar series (here).

The icon says it all.
kaigou: (1 Toph)
Man, the gender!fail on some of the stuff I've been watching recently... it's like, it's great as long as I just forget that any character has any gender at all, and then I can enjoy the pretty pictures and not have to think about the constant message that girls are weak, that power makes girls crazy, that the only agency it's okay for a girl to have is in the act of choosing her lover (of the opposite sex, natch).

Seeking a break, I went to see what anime's now available since the last time I checked, and wah, two more episodes of Break Blade (sometimes translated as Broken Blade). Yay!

Yes. It's mecha. (What did you expect? This is me, after all.) It's SF with a slight edge of the extra F, at least in terminology (people can operate quartz as a power-source or power-channel; the very rare souls unable to manipulate quartz are known as non-sorcerers). It's political, in that several countries are embroiled in a current war that seems to be heightened due to little-mentioned history (low-key on the exposition, which is actually rather nice). And, being mecha, it's unsurprisingly running about 7:1 on the fanservice, with one of the main female characters getting plenty of screen time in a gauzy cropped (and open) jacket with artfully placed long hair just so.

[Have you ever known anyone with long hair who drapes the hair just so, and for whom the hair will then actually stay like that, instead of falling to either side? Mangakas: it's called gravity and it don't work the way you're drawing. Just sayin'.]

Fine, it's the usual shonen-mecha, but for once the boys don't take up quite so much space. )

When I look at all that... I'm willing to forgive the superfluous fan service. Still wish the mangaka would up the male-character fan service, but 1 is better than 0, I suppose. As long as I keep getting so many moments of crowning kick-ass from female characters, I can live with 7:1 of panty-shots and cleavage vs bare chest.
kaigou: when in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand. (3 when in doubt)
(If you're not familiar, "shounen" means "boy", and is used as the genre-name for action/adventure stories geared towards boys, usually aged about 11-16 or so. "Shoujo" is the genre for girls of equivalent age.)

From endersgirrrl's review of Bloody Monday:
The shounen manga Bloody Monday was the brainchild of prolific writer Agi Tadashi (credited as Ryumon Ryou), who also penned the manga Kami no Shizuku [...] And it’s interesting how the shounen vs. shoujo genres play to two fundamentally disparate adolescent yearnings: shounen manga panders to every hormonal teenage boy’s most basic non-sexual fantasy, which is to be a Superhero (but — in disguise!!!), while shoujo manga puts a premium on an adolescent female protagonist realizing!her!relationships! — be they romantic or platonic.

Shounen manga is much more result-oriented, i.e. the teenage Hero with a small but loyal band of like-minded friends saves something or someone close to him, with the highest aspiration really being to SAVE THE WORLD. [...] In shounen manga, character development takes a backseat to plot (and plot is really all about Accomplishing!the!Mission!), while in shoujo manga, character development supersedes plot action as the protagonist/s are more focused on working through their feelings and experiencing inner growth — and all that sappy SweetValleyHigh-ish stuff, lol.

[In Bloody Monday, all] the staples of the quintessential shounen manga are here: a teenage Hero with “special abilities” (in this case, hacking and, uh, looking unbelievably good in hoodies); the Hero’s brainy best bud, who has his own “special-but-not-AS-special-as-the-Hero’s abilities” (in this case, archery skills and spouting random useless trivia — like when Christmas Day is really celebrated in Russia); their loyal friends (usually of the same age bracket — in this case, the Newspaper Club at school); the token Hot Chick on the side of the Baddies; a Mission that only the teenage Hero can accomplish (natch!); the techno-gadgetry and gizmo-geekery galore! galore!; and oodles of HardyBoy-esque action — chase sequences! messy explosions! and rooftop standoffs! (oh my!)


If [the show/manga plot] sounds vaguely familiar, you may recall the Aum Shinrikyo (now Aleph) terrorist cult that perpetrated the well-documented sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 12 commuters and injuring hundreds. [... Given] that the real-life Baddies’ shenanigans are obviously no child’s play, you understand why the manga writer would want to dull the edge of their depravity by sketching up these cartoonized (read = shounen-friendly) versions.

And the best way to dumb down all the crazymonkeybaddies? Is to make the TRUE ringleader… well, just like our teenage Hero. No I mean, literally just like our teenage Hero. So in the end, the Uber-Villain is revealed to be not a 50-year-old barefoot mystic, or a twentysomething math genius, but… oh, just another kid. [...] It’s stupid as sh*t, but you kind of understand how it also reveals the true heart of a 12-year-old manga-wanking fanboy: by vicariously channeling the story’s Hero, he can ONLY save the world IF the villain is just like him – in age, stature and abilities. This really is the ultimate shounen-manga satisfaction: by leveling the playing field, the inherent absurdity of a hormonal teenager saving the world becomes much, much easier to stomach. Whoopeeee. Long live the 12-year-old fanboy, may his precious manga collection never get eaten by termites, may mummy never catch him – uh, doing funny sh*t inside his closet with a stash of ecchi comics, and may he never turn into a sociopathic whack job later in life, lol.

I adore Ender's Girl's reviews, partly for often having some crucial insights I missed while watching, and always for having a completely torqued and spastic sense of humor that clearly loves the shows while skewering them mercilessly. (Even if you haven't seen the show, thus, EG's review is worth the five-minute read if you need a bit of levity in your day.)

Beyond that, though, I was thinking about something I was told when first writing urban fantasy... )

In a semi-related vein, I want to save this somewhere more reliable than just my email inbox, just because it's important to remember. From a thread on femslash, another Branchian piece of brilliant observation:
We can step around the boys, the same way slash steps around the girls, but we have to step wider because they’re taking up more space.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (1 iguana)
I recall that when Sita Sings the Blues came out, there were some rumblings (might've been louder, but I only noticed rumblings) about the issue of appropriation. The story retells Sita's story, contrasting it with a Westerner/American's story of heartbreak, and mixes it up with songs from a now-less-known blues singer. The story doesn't entirely cast Sita as a feminist -- I don't think you can do that without really butchering the original -- but it does call out the assumptions that Rama is such a great guy, seeing the way he treats the alleged love of his life (and the mother of his children). To me, what saves the story from being complete appropriation is that the bulk of the narration is provided by three Indian expats discussing the legend, the characters, the stories around them, colored by their own take on things, sort of like a gentle critique within a critique.

cross-cultural critique: Sita Sings the Blues, and (yes, really) D.Gray-man )
kaigou: don't go all fangirl on me now (2 fangirl)
Can anyone name a good AMV (decent to better quality) that would work as an introduction to the range of animation styles in anime? Nostromo's AMVs are definitely high-quality, but Nostromo also seems to focus very strongly on female characters, and I'm thinking something more balanced might be better. It's Tricky To Make A Music Video would definitely be a classic, but its quality is a little low (in terms of what I can download) and the music might be a bit too dated for a classroom. Besides, there's got to be more out there, now, that would have a range of as many diverse videos as ITTMAMV does.

Any suggestions?
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 grumpy cat)
1. Why does DW keep logging me out after only four hours?

2. What are they smoking over at Sunrise? Was there some kind of water-fountain dare to see how many cameos they could squeeze into one movie while simultaneously introducing seventy-nine new characters, forty-seven new Gundams, and eighteen new types of firepower? While also trying to maintain at least three canonical and five implied romances? And doing all this while also making every explosion-in-space fuschia?

Whatever they're smoking, I think they should share.

ETA: Holy crap, they turned Tieria into fucking Tinkerbell.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 love the stars)
There be spoilers in this post, which is both analysis & recommendation for a Taiwanese drama, Gloomy Salad Days. If you're worried about the subjects tackled by the drama, I'll be going into length, so at least you'll know what you're in for (with the cost of not being surprised).

First thing to realize: the entire series (twenty episodes, now fully fansubbed by SUBlimes -- google it) is inundated with pop-idols. You've got your current pretty-face stars, your rising stars, even bit-parts populated by various winners of various reality-show-idol-competition whatsahoosies. The entire cast list (outside of the few adult roles) is, well, mostly pop idols -- and it does seem that this may be the first major acting many of them have done. If you keep that in mind, you may find yourself not irritated at the low level of acting ability, but instead impressed at just how well many of the young cast members pull off some damn hard roles and storylines.

Second thing: the series is loosely based on a Japanese anime, Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl). The Taiwanese version was originally to be titled, "Death Girl" (and that right there is an important distinction); I think the final title is because of the song used as the opening, which fits the dark and often hopeless mood of the interior stories rather well.

I make note of the Hell Girl vs Death Girl, because if the Japanese version is strongly Buddhist, the Taiwanese version has major Taoist leanings instead... so a large chunk of the story has been shifted for the difference in world-view. Comparing the two versions, and overviews of some of the storylines, especially the one revolving around a transgender student, and the one tackling the issue of bullying. )

Much shorter version: the series is dark, melancholy, at times hampered by inexperienced acting (but not nearly as much as you might expect given the relative inexperience of the cast overall), but the script is solid and thoughtful writing, and it keeps its sympathetic focus entirely on the outcast characters, whatever their role. Transgender, gay, lesbian, abandoned child, child-prostitute, and so on. Some of the episodes are stronger than others, but that's to be expected with such a large and continually changing cast. All in all, though, this isn't your usual candy-fluffy pop-idol drama where someone's making sure the camera always gets the good sides, and the fact that this was marketed for and broadcast to 10-14 year olds just boggles me... and impresses me mightily. Overall, it's a damn gutsy television show.

Lastly: the final four episodes attempt to tie up the connection between Shen Qi and Death Girl, a la the original Jigoku Shoujo... but it's too much at once. The previous episodes had kept a better balance of how much melodrama was piled on, mostly because each storyline focused on a specific part/type of dramatic incident. The final four episodes throw in everything and the kitchen sink, including the dreaded "inappropriate feelings between siblings" (with the nearly-throwaway line to alert you to fake-out, that both siblings were adopted) -- and frankly, even the two experienced leads don't have the chops to keep the melodrama from crushing them. I've mostly browsed through the episodes, only stopping randomly.

You may enjoy the final four, or you may MST3K it out the wazoo, but if it helps, the final four episodes are not really required for any overall understanding. Each two-episode storyline could be considered reasonably standalone (with the possible exception of episodes 7-10, since Li You's story comes into play in Xiao Ju's story).

ps: I guess the wiki entry got un-reverted, because every change I made is now in there. *whistles*
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 break out of prison)
[note: edited to reduce ambiguity in middle part]

Last year (has it already been that long? or am I confusing my fails?) there was the slight kerfluffle among we netizens between female romance writers of M/M fiction and gay (male) readers. This particular note was barely more than a footnote, but I saw it mentioned in a number of places: deriding stories as 'okay-gay'. The label means every character is "just fine" with homosexuality. There's no trauma, no bullying, no isolation, and friends discovering a gay character's sexuality don't respond with negatives but positives, if they even bother to give the character's sexuality that much thought. I didn't see anyone questioning this, which even at the time raised my eyebrows. I don't mean questioning whether it's okay (so to speak) to apply this label; I mean questioning the assumptions in the label.

A few months ago, CP picked up a copy of Boy's Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-cultural Fandom of the Genre, edited by Antonia Levi, Mark McHarry, and Dru Pagliassotti. Most of the essays are, frankly, rather pendantic, and some just repeat what's been said plenty of places elsewhere. Some are only barely related to the genre in question, and have little more than a few names dropped of BL publishers to tie the essay into the anthology's theme. (I note all that in case you're thinking it sounds like a good read. It has its bright spots, but of fourteen essays, few really stood out to make the cost worth it.)

One of the essays had a point that's been bubbling around for awhile now; the essay is "Gay or Gei? Reading 'Realness' in Japanese Yaoi Manga", by Alexis Hall. The author interviewed female (American, from what I gather) readers of yaoi manga, asking them about whether yaoi manga is realistic, and what elements 'make' a yaoi story realistic. read the rest... )
kaigou: first I'm going to have a little drinkie, then I'm going to execute the whole bally lot of you. (2 execute all of you)
I've been watching a kdrama called Sungkyunkwan Scandal (which I will probably never be able to pronounce, and here I thought Nurarihyon was a tongue-twister). There's a short summary at mehanata.net (along with dl & subs, if you're interested) but the gist is that it's a cross-dressing/genderbender storyline. Girl must pretend to be a boy for various reasons; the stakes are definitely life-or-death (due to historical injunctions against women in neo-Confucianism).

In the most recent episodes, the main love interest has struggled with his growing attraction to our heroine, whom the hero believes to be a boy. It's the same angst-fest (more or less) as in many other genderbender storylines. From what I can tell, one thing that appeals to modern readers about genderbenders (and I'm not counting cross-dressing stories where the intent is farcical) is that on one level, it's illustration of the notion that "girls can play equal to boys", even if this does require that part of "being equal" requires, well, not being a girl. Meanwhile, readers also get to enjoy seeing a boy grapple with his sexuality before coming to the love-affirming position that the sex of the beloved doesn't matter, that his love transcends physical sex. (I also think this decision is seen as affirming because the reader is in on the knowledge of the girl's true identity, so the stakes -- at least for the reader -- are never quite as high as they are for the hero going through the process.)

I know [personal profile] branchandroot discussed this at some point in the past, but I seem to recall her commentary mostly discussed the end-point of any genderbender, which is that ultimately everything does end up heteronormative. The hero's heterosexuality is confirmed when the girl reveals herself to be a girl; the girl takes off the pants and puts the skirt back on; the world returns to its comfortable heteronormative place.

There's two things I recently realized, while watching SKKS and reading various genderbender manhwa, and if you can think of other examples (or anti-examples), help me out here. )
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 so you wanna revolution)
And now, let's move onto the historical and quasi-historical (mythic?) manhwa. The best-known and biggest (and my very first introduction to manhwa, too) is Mi-Kyung Yun's Bride of the Water God, which I already recommended/critiqued at length. The rest of these are relatively recent discoveries.
  • Kim, Tae Yeon: Ban Hon Sa [manhwa: complete; scanlation: stalled]

    Bakaupdates summary: "A series of fairytale-like stories, loosely connected by the ongoing adventures of the enigmatic Hwa Ryungang, a man with strange powers and a connection to the spirit world, and Moohwe, an irrepressible wanderer with a mysterious identity." Complete at seven volumes and unlicensed, but only four volumes are scanlated, and the last update was two years ago. I weep for the last three chapters...

    The story is somewhat episodic, but there are growing hints in the third and fourth volumes of an underlying arc. The problem is that twigging on that arc seems to require some knowledge of Korean mythology, and maybe a bit of shamanistic/indigenous religous-folklore. There are casual references (and some implied backstory) that set off my alerts for myths and folklore, but for which I have little to no reference so only have the sense that this bit has a bigger meaning or implication if only I knew the right stories to read between the lines.
...and more. )

...and I'll cover the dramas in the next post... so very tired, can't keep my eyes open!
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 scare the devil)
One of the things that didn't really strike me hard until watching Kekkaishi was an implication that I've seen repeated in plenty of other animanga (and western comics) but never really gave much thought: that girls are, by definition, weaker in every single way.

If we're going to argue that "weakness" is based on a physical standard, then in general it'd probably be relatively true to say that, overall and on average, a woman is "weaker" than a man. (This requires we discount the outliers like "men who spend their days sitting at a desk" contrasted with "women who are Olympic athletes".) If the average height of the American woman is 5-foot-3-inches, and the average height of the American man is 5-foot-11-inches, height and weight and basic build would imply that a man, on average, would probably have more basic strength than a woman when it comes to lifting, shoving, pushing, kicking, and other fundamental ergonomic forms of power.

Coming at it from a former athlete's point of view, I sometimes get annoyed with this simplification, though, because there are different types of strength. There's power -- which is explosive strength: the ability to compress one's muscles and release the compressed power into a single drive. This is the power measured by ergometers (rowing machines). Then there's endurance and stamina, which are a type of strength but one that relies on consistent, long-term, repetitive motion and the ability to continue that motion indefinitely. You can have a lot of explosive power but little stamina, and vice-versa. There's also elastic strength, which is repeated compression and expansion of muscles at rapid pace, like in gymnastics. Someone could do six handsprings without breaking a sweat but still have difficulty moving a washing machine. There are other classifications of strength, but that should be enough to make it clear that we can't simply say that one person is "weak" compared to another person based upon one type of measurement.

Now, in most Western comics, when we talk about superheroes, there seems to be a fundamental assumption that what's powering the hero (or heroine) is, underneath it all, a measurement of physical strength. Catgirl can only get so far against Batman; his larger muscle-mass, height, reach, and explosive power outrank hers, so it appears we have no compunction accepting that in an even fight, he'd eventually have the upper hand. Contrast this to animanga, where there's a supernatural aspect, and the source of power is not innate to the person's physical body. It's rooted in something spiritual or supernatural, where the wellspring is within the person but not necessarily on a physical plane. )

Excuse me, I'm going to go rewatch the first five episodes of Seirei no Moribito to make myself feel better.
kaigou: sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness. (2 flamethrowers)
For the sake of clarity, I'm going to use the term 'folklore' to refer to all the little stories -- from the mythos of a culture, its anonymous but oft-repeated fairy tales up to its attributed greatest works/stories, to the minutiae of daily life and the advice elders give the next generation. (In essence, there is no reason for anyone to say, "my culture doesn't have that," because if you look at the list and the previous posts, you'll realize that although you may lack in one area, no one lacks in all areas, thus, everyone is raised with some type of folklore.)

The phrase I used before was "cultural currency," speaking in terms of external-culture authors "purchasing" a cultural bit of folklore -- but that's actually rooted in thoughts I was having on a macroeconomic, or macrocultural, scale. If you look at the exports of Japanese anime and manga, a significant number of them are moving along lines of cultural exportation (and the same goes for Korean manga), and an awful lot of the biggest of these exported products also incorporate significant distinctively-Japanese elements.

Letters to Santa, urban folklore, Japanese v. Korean v. Chinese comics, the folklore impact of the Cultural Revolution, and white-American culture, all in three pages or fewer. I think. )

Hmmm. Dunno. Just a thought, really. Okay, a bunch of them.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 dot dot dot)
Just finished watching (finally, after wanting to, for so long) Rahxephon. In short, if Eva has daddy issues, I suppose Rah's got mommy issues... but the art's a great deal better. (So's the story, but I say that as someone who's managed to avoiding seeing Eva for, well, since it came out, and plan to keep doing so, which means comparisons can't go past the superficial level to which Eva has hugely influenced Japanese -- and US -- pop culture.)

Other than ongoing series, also currently catching up on a few more. Yes, all at the same time, trading off one episode to the next in a disorganized round-robin:

Hatenkou Yugi -- genre-savvy, but not where I'm at right now.
B Gata H Kei -- ehehehehehehe.
Bakemonogatari-- like Senkou no Night Raid or Rahxephon (but for different reasons entirely), this one requires a mental break between episodes.
Toward the Terra-- some reviews say "it takes a bit to get used to the character designs". Maybe because it's based on a manga from the late 70s? Very retro. Check out those lapels! Story-wise, though, it pulls no punches.
Heroic Age-- Dude. When the first episode is already a half-assed mixed-bag, I don't think there's much hope.
Now and Then, Here and There-- hmmmm. Verdict still out.
Kimi ni Todoke-- Not my usual style/genre, but totally charmed all the same.

I have no defense as to the amount of shoujo in there, except to say that B Gata H Kei would never ever make it onto American television. EVER. I'm not even sure how it made it onto Japanese television.
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (1 kusuri-uri contemplate)
[ ETA: to clarify a term I frequently use (but may be unfamiliar to some), "animanga" is a portmanteau of "anime" and "manga", meant as a shorthand for "the Japanese illustrated-story publishing/production industries, including manga (graphic novels), illustrated 'light' novels, four-panel comics, animated television shows, animated miniseries/OVA (Original Animation Videos), and animated theatrical releases". Because there's often a great deal of cross-pollination between the two types (printed vs. moving), I tend to use "animanga" to refer to the entire ball of wax in one easy word. ]

We all know (and likely loathe, at least given the posts I see go past from most of you) the damsel in distress: she does something stupid, gets captured/hurt, has to be saved by the hero, and usually ends up clinging to him. I've been browsing some of the manga that readers have classified (on reader-tagging database sites) as "strong female lead" or "strong female character", and I think we need an intermediary.

Something like, "female character damselfied by the author", or "damsel with fighter tendencies," for a less anti-author spin on it.

The so-called "strong female characters" usually go like this: she's relatively outspoken, strong-willed, and ostensibly very good at whatever she does (even if in some stories we never see her do anything, we're at least told she's good). She's independent, and a common expression or thought among the transistional damsel is that she wants to 'stand on her own two feet'. She'll often explicitly state that she intends to fight [the big bad], alongside the hero, as his team-mate or equal. She doesn't see him as her rescuer, but as her mentor or her role model (and sometimes as the person she aspires to equal). )

All these are just more reasons on the list of why I love Balsa and Gen. Oliva Armstrong so much.
kaigou: under this playful boyish exterior beats the heart of a ruthless sadistic maniac (2 charming maniac)
Thoughts here are mostly stemming from watching/reading Gegege no Kitaro and Nurarihyon no Mago, but it's a topic I've messed with before (see here, here, and here). The bottom line is a really obvious one, but I'll state it anyway just so you know where I'm coming from: informal, orally-transferred just-so folklore is a huge foundation of any culture, whether we agree with it, believe in it, or even realize it.

I don't mean iconic national images; those are often loosely based on historical events (and more often than not, shading into myth as the decades and centuries pass), though they can certainly become part of what I'm talking about, in a way. I mean simpler things, tiny things you've probably heard a hundred times growing up, that you never give any thought to, because these are just Things We Say.

Here's one I bet most Americans may've heard: "don't open the umbrella inside the house, or the house'll get hit by lightning." Who the hell even believes umbrellas will cause lightning, even on a clear day? "Don't kill that spider, you'll make it rain!" Oh, right, there's a scientific cause-and-effect. You can call all these superstitions, and utter nonsense, and stuff that's just Things We Say (But Don't Really Mean). You can say, you're an adult and you know none of this is true... but these are a huge part of our personal stories. )

[not done yet, just too busy to make this all one post]
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 love the stars)
A few months ago I was reading an article on Gegege no Kitaro, or more precisely an article on the first live-action film adaptation of the classic, and I figured, this is a classic. I should see this. All I can say is: it's so endearingly charming, with just enough kookiness. Scary enough to frighten the under-four-foot crowd, but never sustaining that scariness long enough to do more than give them a slight jump, and almost always followed up with either humor or similar to make it clear the good guys are still good and in one piece... but with enough Shinto-elements that the bad guys don't get their comeuppance in the Western tradition, but are forgiven and given a chance to start over. (I'd say the resolution is a deus ex machina, but more like a deus ex vulpina.)

Okay, okay, so there's a good-sized dose of overacting, but hey, this is a kid's feature -- but it's also got what has to be one of the largest budgets for CGI that I've seen in a Japanese film. Really, it's up there with Pixar/Hollywood levels, spare no expense, even if that meant purchasing extra sets just for some of the actors to chew with wild abandon. And chew, they did! But still, so much fun. No, the acting is not Oscar-level, but -- kid's film! -- and enough of the actors are clearly having fun along the way, and there are enough nods here and there to classic yokai that it's almost like spot-the-cameo.

(My personal favorite was the Tengu King and his guards -- and when the tengu police come for Kitaro is an awesome scene.)

After that, I tracked down the sequel -- Gegege no Kitaro and the Millennium Curse -- which is a slightly darker storyline that also tried to cram in as many yokai as possible (past the point where the budget could CGI all of it, it seems), but hey. Again, kid's movie, and one point in its favor is that the female characters hold their own better than I'd expected; even Sunakake Baba takes out her share of the bad guys.

Unexpected crossovers of an unexpected houseguest, the origins of manga, and making it all new again. )

The last few paragraphs aren't neatly argued, are even more disjointed than usual, because I kept interrupting the writing to go do woodwork... so I guess I'll either revise later or we can all do the happier usual and discuss it in comments. Besides, this is actually just a stop on the way to where I eventually ended up while pondering this, but I'll save that for the next post.


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

October 2016

91011 12131415


No cut tags


RSS Atom