The Optimism Of Evangelion

Note: This will be focused on the manga for Neon Genesis Evangelion rather than the anime. Also, some lines quoted may not exactly correlate with ones that you read, this is because I’m using quotes taken for the Viz Media release as well as various scanlation groups.

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Neon Genesis Evangelion is a title that is frequently thrown around in niche circles and is often regarded as one of the most important anime to grace the industry ever. While the validity of this praise could be debatable, I will be focusing on the manga for this series, which seems to be not as popular and not discussed as often which seems odd based off the popularity of the anime adaptation.

The manga for Neon Genesis Evangelion was serialized from February 1995 through June 2013 while the anime was released in the Fall of 1995. Both followed a similar storyline but had noticeable differences towards the end of the manga. I will not dwell upon the differences and will treat the manga as a separate entity in this analysis just to avoid overlap with my hazy memories of the anime, which I have not revisited in nearly two years.

One common “counter argument” I often see as a reason to dislike Neon Genesis Evangelion is largely focused towards Shinji’s character. Those critical of his actions claim that he acts weak, unmotivated and like a “little bitch.” Those are completely valid points because that’s how Shinji was written, but they are missing the point. I read “Your enjoyability of Eva is inversely proportional to how much you hate yourself when you watch it” or something like that. Here, the key to understanding Shinji is to understand yourself. If you have ever felt like life was pointless or the overwhelming feelings of sadness you most likely can understand Shinji, but those who only see him as a “whiny bitch” are those who fail to understand the difficulties of being a human.

First we must understand the significance of the Human Instrumentality Project. Seele’s goal was to fix the impurities of the human race to evolve towards a new being devoid of pain and suffering. The goal was to reunite everyone in a sea of LCL to create a single entity that would share their feelings with everyone- no more A.T fields.

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A.T Fields (Absolute Terror Fields) were a way to block off the heart that everyone has. Other humans cannot share your problems so you only ended up letting the burden of your problems pile upon you. (You’re Going To Carry That Weight) However, the A.T Fields allowed humans to remain in their physical forms and live their own life individually. The importance here is that while these barriers trap your troubles in with you, they also allow you to be an individual, something Shinji learns at the end.

Before sending him off, Misato gives advice to Shinji which is the key to his understanding that maybe the suffering and pain is what makes us human. During this encounter she explains how Shinji needs to pick his own path and do things for himself, because he’s “not a kid anymore.” I interpreted this scene as Shinji’s “graduation” from childhood and his passage into adulthood. Misato encourages him to take the next step of life on his own, not to be pushed around by adults because he is now one of them- to become an individual. She seals this with an “adult kiss.” While studied in depth as a source of Misato’s sexuality, I see this signifying Shinji’s passage into adulthood. Earlier in the story he Attempts to kiss Asuka because neither of them have had their first kiss. This ends up being interrupted by Kaji and Misato making-out in the elevator. (quite possibly the same elevator that Shinji takes later on) Regardless of what happened, this was a childish act. It isn’t until Shinji kisses Misato that he is transformed into an adult, while the kiss he was going to receive from Asuka would not have been.

During the attempt to initiate the Human Instrumentality Project, in the void, Shinji conversed with Rei (or Lilith, or Yui?) about his decision of whether to move forward with instrumentally. It is here when Shinji, now as an individual, realizes the truth of being a human. Suffering and pain are gone in the sea of LCL, but so is happiness, “it’s just like being dead.” Emotions are what make us human, removing them take away what is essential to being an individual. Similarly, there there was no comfort of being with another human. Before this, Shinji did not understand the importance of interacting with others and saw them as a hollow act but he has now grown to understand that we cannot live alone, we’re imperfect creatures. Humans cannot grow alone, though we cannot grow too close to one another. Despite this, he realized that it’s better to not be alone. Even if it was impossible to fully understand another person and even if his hands caused suffering for other, his hands could also bring joy and warmth to others which is something he wants to learn for himself. With this, he holds the hand of Rei and she disintegrates returning the humans to the world, reversing the instrumentality project.

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After this, we see Shinji on a train heading to take an exam in Tokyo. He recites the same lines he stated at the beginning “I don’t aspire to any future profession of career. I’ve never had any cherished dreams of ambitions. I’ve always just drifted along, and I thought it would always be that way… I’ve never really cared whether I got into an accident or something and died. But… these days I think… the reason I don’t see any hope… is because I’m not looking for it.” Over the course of the events that took place, Shinji was able to learn that life is worth living, he just never understood that he just needed to find hope to help him on his journey.

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Neon Genesis Evangelion deals with heavy themes that are often difficult to grasp which may leave you feeling depressed or empty after finishing the series. However, it is important to understand the optimism of the ending. This was the story of a wandering soul learning what it means to be a human, becoming an adults, and individual, and finding a reason to move forward. Finding that hope in life is the key to find a life worth living, regardless of what it is. Eva never tells you what that hope is specifically, but that’s what’s so great. The ending leaves you to think on your own, as an individual, to understand what that hope may be for you instead of holding your hand like a child and steering you towards a specific answer.

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Afterword: While Eva is analyzed to death, there is still room for everyone’s own interpretation. That’s how art works, everyone sees the same thing on the surface, but what’s important is how the artist made you feel and how that changed your understanding of the world or yourself. This is applicable for Eva since the lesson here, or at least the one I was able to get out of it, resonated deeply with me. This is why I want to express my understanding of this work to not only help others who feel the same, but to share a piece of myself to the world.

 

 

“Pick your own path”

“Do it for yourself”

“You’re not a kid anymore- being pushed around by adults”

“You graduated”

“So take the next step out of your own free will”

“Look for those answers without anyone’s help”

-Misato Katsuragi

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Strolling Around Anime Central

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Near The Industry Booths

Anime Central (ACEN) celebrated its 20th anniversary this past weekend and I was luckily enough to be able to attend this year. I had my last day of classes on Friday so I had to miss the first day, but that only gave me more incentive to spend every moment at the convention the second and third days. This was my first convention experience, and in many ways it met my expectations, but it also surpassed them. I’m going to briefly run through my experience, talk about the panels I visited and show off some of cool stuff I got my hands on.

Initial Impressions:
I walk into the convention center on Saturday morning and am immediately greeted by the sight of dozens of cosplayers in the main lobby. It was quite impressive to see so many people dressed as their favorite characters, since prior to this I had only seen pictures of cosplay online and not in person. After moving past the lobby, I went to the registration table and there was luckily no line so I was able to pick up my lanyard and event book fairly quickly. I turned around and looked into the entrance and saw a massive room full of anime fans. I went into the vendors area and was greeted by the industry booths and large anime posters. I casually strolled around the first few rows before remembering that I had a panel to go to, and I was meeting my friend there. This is when I encountered my first problem- I had no idea where the panels were being held. My friend had texted me earlier that it was panel room 6 on the second floor, so I began looking for stairs and found some in the lobby area. I followed the flow of people up the escalators and through a hallway until I finally found a sign indicating that the panel rooms were ahead. I later found out that I had taken the longest possible route to the panel room.

Panels:
Prior to even going to ACEN, I had downloaded the official app to help plan my schedule and add panels to my list of to-do. I did not hold back and added a dozen panels to my list that I wanted to attend. I later found out that I wanted to spend more time in the vendors area and artist alley than I initially expected, so I ended up only making two panels out of the dozen I had planned.

I quickly find panel room 6, locate my friend and sit down to listen to the presenters. My first panel was about the history of Type-Moon and their humble beginnings as a small game company. The presenters seemed to be very knowledgeable about their topic and had a nice Powerpoint with various video clips and relevant pictures to help. Overall, this was a informative panel and was what I had in mind- a presentation by anime fans for anime fans.

The second day I attended a panel about mythology hosted by Crispin Freeman, one of my personal favorite English voice actors. It was a intriguing insight to looking at the differences between western and eastern influences and how they directly affect their respective entertainment styles. He explained the differences between manga and comics, the influences and compared and contrasted Disney princesses and magical girls. In the later half, Crispin analyzed the Revolutionary Girl Utena film as a way to further explain his points, and delved a bit into mysticism as a means to wrap everything up. I was very surprised how knowledgeable Crispin was about mythology and mysticism, and I was able to take a lot of information about this panel.

Vendor’s Room:
I have never seen so much anime merchandise all in one place, it was almost overwhelming. Me and my friend snaked through all the vendor’s displays to try to scope out the all various figures, DVD’s, shirts and plushies before breaking out wallets. We spent a good hour just walking between booths and looking at all the wonderful anime goodies for sale. I quickly found out that there was multiple booths selling the same figures for different prices, so I was a good thing we scoped out all the booths first before making an uninformed purchase. There was also an impressive display of anime DVD’s at one booth, and I could not help but look though all of them with the hopes of finding something rare, and ended up succeeding in that aspect. At one vendor, I managed to find a copy of Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue for only $35, and that was a steal considering it’s difficult to even find a copy online for under $80. I also ended up impulsively buying The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya because I’ve been meaning to add that to my collection since I watched it two years ago.

Prior to heading to the con, I had been in “idol hell” after getting into Idolm@ster, then Love Live. Because of this I was planning on looking for idol figures and possibly other idol merchandise. Luckily, there was no shortage of that. By far my favorite stand was the idol merchandise booth. It was towards the middle of the vendor’s area, and  was immediately overwhelmed with Love Live posters. As I walked around the booth, I saw dozens of figures, Figma, art books, CD’s, imported games, posters and random collectibles that were all so tempting to buy!

Playing it smart, my friend suggested that we scope out the entire vendor’s area before making an impulsive purchase and end up paying more than another vendor was asking. This almost worked, because we ended up finding a guy selling figures that gave a discount if you bought two at a time. He bought a Ranko Kaznaki figure (which I kinda wanted too) and I got my Chihaya figure, both characters being from Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls and Idolm@ster respectively. We later found out that that purchase was fairly priced and the Ranko figure was the only one we were able to find, so it ended up not being a poor decision.

Strolling around, being completely immersed in all the anime goodness was a completely different experience from browsing the manga section at your local bookstore. I’m always awestruck when I see items for sale that I could previously only see through a computer screen. Countless of posters, hundreds of anime DVD’s for sale, countless figures, anime apparel and plushies galore. The experience was quite overwhelming in a sense, I had to really prioritize what I bought or else I would have ended up wasting all my budget before seeing everything. That being said, being overwhelmed with anime merchandise was not a bad thing, it was more of an eye-opening experience for me. I was able to finally see the sheer scale of anime fans in my area who all shared my passion for Japanese animations who were all interested in buying anime related goodness.

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One of the many figure vendors

Artist Alley:
Me and my buddy spent a ton of time in this area, and it was one of the best parts about my convention experience. The atmosphere itself made me feel at ease despite the overcrowding and lack of personal space. Walking from booth to booth gave off the feeling of a bazaar with slightly less chaos. A multitude of tables, each displaying wonderful artwork and friendly artists who were happy to talk with you. We met one guy who wrote, drew and published his own graphic novel series. He was really passionate about his project and I enjoyed talking with him for that reason. We made sure to take business cards from artists we could not afford, and made sure to look at everything. I was also very impressed by a few artists who were working on commissions or just doodling at their respective booth. Personally, I’ve been working towards improving my own art, so watching these incredibly talented men and women draw with such ease on the spot was awe inspiring.

I ended up spending a larger amount of my budget than I was expecting, but I do not regret any of the purchases I made here. There were great deals, bundles and nice people so I  was happy to support the artists in their creative endeavors.

Final Thoughts:
I’m so glad I was able to have such a big anime convention in my area. Going to ACEN really opened my eyes to the more social aspects of the anime community (not online) and the sheer amount of like minded fans from the same subculture. I love the merchandise I bought and being able to see everything the community had to offer all in one place was a very special experience. You also have the opportunity to experience a sense of comradery amongst the other anime fans which is something I have never felt before in any other gathering of a particular interest.I highly recommend to go to at least one convention, bring plenty of cash and maybe a friend or two. Bringing a large group will only complicate moving through crowded areas and will likely separate you from them. Good walking shoes are also a must since I was sore from all the walking.

Merchandise Bought:

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Day One

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Day Two

Perfect Blue and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya DVD
Yazawa Nico and Chihaya figures
Rem and Umi small figures.
Rem and Ram Re:Zero shirt
“Haruka Haruharu vs The World” shirt
Idolm@ster CD

 

Artist Alley Haul:

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Thanks for reading everyone, have a nice rest of your day.

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Spring 2017 Anime Thoughts: Part 2

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Beautiful shot from “SukaSuka”

Better late then never I suppose. This is a follow-up blog to me spring anime predictions post. This is mainly going to briefly go over the shows I’m watching, some I picked up and other that I’ve dropped or decided not to watch.

First thing’s first, my dropped anime or anime I decided not to watch due to lack of interest. These shows had extremely lackluster first episodes that made me unmotivated to continue watching it the next week. There are also a few shows listed that I didn’t even bother starting due to time constrains or my lack of interest after reading discussion threads online. Many things went into the decision to drop these shows, but most often was pacing, animation, and character design.

Gin no Guardian

Clockwork Planet

Sakurada Reset

Tsuki ga Kirei

Fukumenkei Noise

Sword Oratoria

Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

 

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Sagiri-chan form “Eromanga-sensei”

 

Now to the important stuff, the anime series I will actually be keeping up with on a weekly basis, which is something I haven’t been able to so regularly. However, this season provides me with plenty of entertainment to keep me coming back every week. That being said, I want to give a shout out to Saturday’s for reigniting my childhood memories of exciting Saturday mornings spent watching cartoons. As a child, I had Speed Racer reruns, now I have new episodes of Attack On Titan, Boku no Hero Academia and Re:Creators. I also want to mention my biggest surprise of the season: SukaSuka (Condensed title of Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka?”). I only became aware of this show after looking over discussion posts on an anime forum and liking the main heroine’s character design. When going over the charts in the beginning of the season, I thought this was going to be another “typical light novel adaptation” but I was wrong. There seems to be darker undertones that lead me to believe there’s going to be a big twist in the future. What hooked me on this was the opening minutes of the first episode. I had to go back and rewatch it to fully appreciate the music and foreshadowing. Possible anime of the season depending on how the latter half goes. Anyways, here’s my list of shows I’m watching, they are ranked from most enjoyable to least enjoyable, the top being the most enjoyable and the bottom being the least.

Attack On Titan Season 2

SukaSuka

Sakura Quest

Boku no Hero Academia Season 2

Re:Creators

Eromanga-sensei

As for the films and OVA’s, I’ll be looking into them as they are made available and will discuss them in depth in a blog if I find something worthwhile in them.

There will be separate blogs covering the entirety of the shows I finished at the end of the season. I’ll be going into depth discussing the overall enjoyability, nitpicks and overall feeling after watching. Those blogs will ideally be out soon after the particular series ends airing, but will realistically be out before the summer season begins. Anyways, thanks for reading and have a nice rest of your day/night!

 

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From the Opening of “Sakura Quest”

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Opening Episodes: Attack On Titan Season 2

Only three episodes have aired at the time of writing this. 


Attack on Titan season 2 seems to be the most talked about show this season, all thanks to the immensely popular first season which aired in 2013. These new episodes throw us right back into the action where the first season left off at, however, there seems to be something different this time around.
Episode 1
As the first episode of the new season starts off, it becomes apparent that there’s an overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety in the each of the characters. Each of the soldier’s eyes seem to reflect their fear of inevitable death by the overwhelming force of the titans. Despite the heavy mood engulfing his troops, Mike tells his peers that “You only lose when you stop fighting”. Despite these words of encouragement, the motivation only results in Mike’s brutal death at the end of the episode. Sometimes, you need to know when to run away.
Episode 2
After this, the story shifts to spotlight Sasha (potato girl). Through a flashback, we learn a bit about the country life she left behind in order to join the military. Usually, a well-placed flashback like this would hint at an inevitable death for that character, but not in this case. While scouting an abandoned village, Sasha comes across a titan eating a mother right in front of her daughter’s eyes. Sasha believes that she can save both of them, but soon realizes that doing so would only result in everyone’s death. She makes a rational decision to save the child and herself and tries to get the hell out of there, but her clumsiness causes her horse to run away, frightened by the titan pursuing them. When all hope was lost, Sasha instructed the child to escape without her as she stayed back to distract the titan. She gave it everything she had to blind the monster and happened to escape through sheer luck. (the titan blood allowed her to slip out of its grasp and escape). The episode concludes with Connie discovering a titan amidst the rubble of his old home, despite the fact that it does not have the ability to walk.

Episode 3
I could really feel the unease of the characters in this episode, the feeling was overwhelming. The lighting and color palette is darkened to help establish this mood in the second half of the episode. One scene which is worthy of mention is when the squads are on horseback traveling around the perimeter of the wall. There small area lighted by the torches gave off a sense of claustrophobia while the heavy breathing enhanced the atmosphere. The soundtrack played a big part in this episode which left me on the edge of my seat while watching. The episode ends on a cliffhanger showing the squad in the castle ruins surrounded and at the mercy of the titans.
Impressions Thus Far
The second episode is what really inspired me to write my thoughts. I read/watched the anime early on in my anime career, but I don’t remember the first season leaving me feeling like this. I’m currently going back through the manga, and while the feeling of hopelessness is present, it is not the as prevalent as what I’ve seen on season 2. Because of this, I want to reflect upon what made Attack On Titan resonate with me.
Attack on Titan was appealing not for it’s fantastical take on shounen fights, rather the human elements to the story. The politics, the fear and unrest amongst the people, and the sheer overwhelming presence of the titans and the hopelessness of the human race. I feel like season 2 has taken what I found good about the first season and seems to be running with that to create a much different series than what we have seen before
I believe Attack on Titan is at its strongest when it focuses on the humans, not the titans, because at its core, it’s a war story. These types of stories shine the brightest when they focus on the lives of the people living through the trauma, not the event itself. I couldn’t care less if this season has no action at all, I would rather see how each character learns to cope with the situation they were thrust into.

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Across Time And Space: Kimi no na Wa Discussion

Proceed with caution. Spoilers are included.

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Makoto Shinkai is a director I hold close to my heart and I have always enjoyed this stories of love he has displayed in his various works. Five Centimeters Per Second tells a heartbreaking story of love not being bound by distance, Garden Of Words tells a story about love not bound by age differences, and his recent work, Kimi no na Wa, telling a story of love that is not bound by time. It’s a touching story of two star-crossed lovers and their story of trying to discover who each other is, and in turn, who they are.

This is the US theatrical release that we had all been waiting for, the film that took Japan by storm setting sales record left and right while us westerner could only imagine what all the rage was about. It took nearly a year for Funimation to localize the film for an American release so us fans had to sit tight and wait for April 7th. Now, was the long wait and months of hype justified?

If there was one word I could use to describe Kimi no na Wa, it would be “beautiful.” As we have seen in previous films by director Makoto Shinkai, the production quality is always top notch and Kimi no na Wa is no exception. The background art was simply beautiful and I couldn’t help but gaze in awe imagining the countless hours spent painting them. As a way to show off the beautiful background art, Shinkai used many establishing shots and panning shots through the film, but this is common of him to do based off his previous works. There was also the use of a few time lapse sequences which were a feast for the eyes. Seeing Tokyo and a small country town go through day and night cycles may have been some of my favorite way Shinkai visually represented the passage of time.

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To compliment the beautiful background art, the animation was top notch as well. I’m no real expert in animation, but I can recognize sakuga when I see it. There were so many wonderful cuts where the skill of the animators really shines. One of the cuts that stands out to me was when Mistuha, our female lead, was standing on top of a hill and the camera pans around her. The level of detail in her hair and the fluidity of the animation was stunning!

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As for the music, it cannot go without saying that RADWIMPS really put some good songs for the OST. Prior to watching Kimi no na Wa, I had stumbled upon this band while browsing /r/japanesemusic and found the “Zen Zen Zen” track there and throughly enjoyed it without even knowing its connection to the film. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to hear this song played in the “opening” of the film. Overall, the soundtrack is very good and I liked the choice of music since the tracks were used in the right places to emphasize the emotions of the scene, specifically the RADWIMPS songs. I’m currently listening to the entirety of the OST while writing this blog, and it’s slightly above average as far as soundtracks are concerned. The RADWIMPS song’s certainly seem to steal the show, but some of the other acoustic tracks are quite comfy to listen to but aren’t to the tier as other exceptional soundtracks.

前前前世 — RADWIMPS

Since I saw the American theatrical release, I had to watch the dubbed version which actually wasn’t terrible. I tend to gravitate towards subbed anime since I prefer the Japanese voice acting better than the American voice acting more often than not. However, the cast for this film was believable, and there was no acting was terrible. Occasionally when watching a dub, there’s an actor that’s unbearable to listen to, but luckily Kimi no na Wa doesn’t suffer from that problem. One nitpick I have here is what was lost in translation. The reading of the Japanese kanji which meant “Magic Hour” probably was better understood in the context of the Japanese dub. However, the script was translated well to account for this which I found to be an adequate enough translation.

Now the meat of this film; the unique story. Prior to hearing about Kimi no na Wa, I hadn’t seen a memorable take on the “body-swapping” concept which is what I think is the most unique part of this film. The character’s react to the given situation believably, like any teenager would, which helped add immersion to the entire story. I have heard complains about this, but we have to remember that there are younger adults who are unable to understand the world and how to logically reason out solutions to some of their own dilemmas. I found Taki and Mistuha to be likeable characters, but lacking in some depth. It would’ve been nice to see more of their internal conflicts about this situation, but it most likely would’ve felt out of place in the atmosphere of the film.

There are also a few minor issues I had with the story, the first being the use of smart phones. I feel like this really cements Kimi no na Wa into the 20th century which may not necessarily be a positive thing. But my main complain comes with how the phones are utilized such as the use of the virtual diary. When the diary began to erase itself after Taki was awoken from his “dream” which seemed fine, but began to confuse my as I thought about it more. I feel that this film would’ve been a bit better if it didn’t rely very heavily on the use of phones, a notebook would’ve been much better and more grounded in reality which can help the believability of the magical aspects of the film. Aside from a few minor plot holes, the story was good, but short of great. This is actually quite impressive since I have seen other anime tackle time-travel poorly and not provide a reasonable explanation to why it happens.

Despite a few complaints about the story and characters, I genuinely loved Kimi no na Wa. I’m a romantic at heart, and I do enjoy a nice romance story more than I probably should. Because of this, I fell in love with the magical story of a connection between two young people trying to find each other across time. The animation and background art alone was worth the watch, but the cute story on top of that made the a rather enjoyable experience. Overall, Kimi no na Wa was worth the wait for me, and it’s the best standalone anime film I have seen in a long time. I recommend watching it if you haven’t already since not only was this film a massive hit in the anime community, but a worldwide phenomenon.

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Discussion Of Kiss Him, Not Me

Originally posted to Anime Amino on Dec. 24

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The voice actress of Kae also voiced Sasha (potato girl) in Attack On Titan

I feel like I could offer a unique perspective on this series since I’m not a fujoshi or a female, I’m a dude. I started this series on a whim and found it to be very enjoyable, more than I expected. I’m going to briefly touch on what I thought about this series and some things I didn’t necessarily like.

I’ve always found meta-comedy to be my favorite type of comedy in anime. This style of comedy relies heavily on the viewer to understand the inside jokes of the medium and are able to be critical of their own hobby. An example of this can be seen in Daru from Steins;Gate. This also semi-relates to chuunibyou anime or anime with characters that have chuunibyou. Besides the obvious show, on of my favorite eamples of of a chuunibyou character is Yoshiteru Zaimokuza from Oregairu. One of the reasons I like this style of comedy in anime is because I can completely understand the gags and jokes because I personally can relate to the subject matter. Anyways, “Kiss Him, Not Me” relied heavily on meta-humor which is one of the reasons I loved this show so much. Hearing Kae overreact over various anime related announcements was quite enjoyable because as an anime fan watching the show, I could feel a connection between me and Kae because I could understand what she must’ve been feeling at that given moment. These moments were my favorite part about the show and what made me come back, week after week, to watch another episode.

Along with the meta-humor that filled this anime, there was also various references to other well known anime such as Attack on Titan, Neon Genesis Evangelion, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and One Piece to name a few. I always find it enjoyable to see anime reference other anime because it enhances the show by making it seem more ‘real’

Despite my high praise for the meta-humor, I believe that they started to become overused towards the conclusion of the series. It felt like the jokes were the very structure of the series and when they started to become stale, my interest in the series fell. What made the humor work at the beginning of the series were the other characters reactions to them, which made it seem like an inside joke between the viewer and Kae. This intimate connection made the series feel special. But overusing the same jokes made the connection fade and the other characters started to catch onto them. This is a common problem many comedy driven shows suffer from- overusing their own jokes. It’s difficult on the writers to be able to use the same style of humor for the entirety of a series while keeping the attention of the viewer.

I spent a lot of time on the comedy appeal of this series, but at heart “Kiss Him, Not Me” is a reverse harem with classic romantic comedy tropes and shenanigans in it. But with the use of common tropes comes common problems. I had some issues with the progression more than anything, but should have been expected before even starting the series. It is common in shoujo anime that there is little to no progression in the romance. With this show however, it takes one step forward and then two steps back. There seems like Kae might choose one guy/girl, but we end up with her avoiding the question which most likely sets up another season due to the source material not being finished. Just a warning, don’t expect much progress or a satisfying conclusion, just expect a open-ended conclusion that (ironically) allows for fan fiction of doujinshi to be made.

I’ll briefly touch on the technical side of the show. The voice acting was quite good and probably one of the better aspects of the show. The voice acting from the love interests specifically. The sound and music was forgettable but does its job and isn’t completely abysmal. Animation was average at best but nothing standout, but I’d like to give credit to the character designer for making such beautiful characters that clearly standout from the side characters.

Overall, “Kiss Him, Not Me” is not the best of 2016, not even the best of the season, but it is a unique reverse harem show that is filled to the brim with meta-humor that appeals to its target audience. As a person who did not fall into that demographic, I still found it enjoyable to a certain extent. I recommend this show to anyone who is into BL series (ironically or not), or enjoys shows that are make jokes based on things that you can relate to as an anime fan. Kiss Him Not Me isn’t really worth your time if you didn’t catch it airing, but is still a fun little series if you like this type of humor.

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An attractive design by Kazuhiko Tamura

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Thoughts On Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale

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These are simply my thoughts on Ordinal Scale. this is by no means a critical review of the film. I am a long-time fan so my opinions are biased

I had the pleasure of being able to watch the newest installment of the Sword Art Online franchise in a theater nearby. Previously, the only anime film I have seen on the big screen was the first part of Kizumonogatari which was a large turnout. On the other hand, I went to go see Ordinal Scale on a Sunday around midday so the theater was nearly empty save a few groups. This made for a great viewing experience because everyone there was respectful and didn’t use their phones or talk during the film which was greatly appreciated. The point of this blog was not to discuss the actual theater, rather the actual film as an experience. I will be mainly touching on how I felt about Ordinal Scale and a few thoughts about the film. I will keep this spoiler-free so no need to worry.

The film opens similarly to the first season of Sword Art Online. There is a bit of exposition making the opening scenes a bit slow when compared to the rest of the film. However, this was completely justified since Ordinal Scale was meant to cater to returning fans and new fans alike. It was a nice refresher since I first watched Sword Art Online back in 2013. The story only gets better from here. Once the exposition comes to a close the plot begins to unfold revealing a story that differs a bit from previous installments in the franchise, but still keeps the charm of the first two seasons. We finally get to see Asuna as well as other side-characters that were often overlooked finally get more screen time and a surprising amount of development. Kirito remains mostly the same so interpret that as you will. The animation was also stellar and the score by returning staff composer Yuki Kajura was a welcome part of the film. Overall, Ordinal Scale was beautifully presented from as visual and audio standpoint which made watching it a treat for the senses.

Aside from the surface presentation, what really sold me on Ordinal Scale was it’s latter half. In typical Sword Art Online fashion, the main conflict was a bit shallow but that doesn’t mean it was unbelievable. There seemed to actually be some emotional explanation towards the “villain’s” motivations. As a result of the main conflict, we got one of the best scenes in the entirety of the franchise. It pains me not to discuss the final climactic battle but I’d rather not spoil the fun and it;s impact on the viewer. When the height of the battle hit and the original battle theme began to play, tension left my body and a child-like grim spread across my face. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia, genuine tears of joy formed in my eyes and passion reignited in my heart. This was the power of anime. I left the theater with an extremely positive attitude and a longing to rewatch the film.

I first sat down to watch Sword Art Online in 2013 which was my first experience with anime, and my journey has led me here. My view of this film is heavily biased due to my personally connection to the series so my opinions previously stated are completely subjective. That being said, I’m a firm believer in the importance of taking away enjoyment from anime and Ordinal Scale is a great film for that. I’ll admit the probability of it being an average film, but in the eyes of a longtime fan it’s an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend that any fan of the previous installments in the franchise watch Ordinal Scale when it’s released on Blu-ray. That being said, I know I’ll be looking out for the collectors edition so long as it isn’t outrageously priced.

Thanks for reading, have a nice day!

 

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Posted in anime, Discussions/Analysis, Films, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Spring 2017 Anime Thoughts- Part 1

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Re:Creators

 

This is a short series I will be starting for each season of new anime, in which I will browse the chart for upcoming anime and write a few thoughts about them. This list is written so that the shows I am most interested in are towards the top, while the shows I will be giving a show are towards the bottom. Any anime not listed is something I won’t be watching, don’t take this as a personal offense. This season, I will continues my trend of only starting shows I find interesting. If I missed any hidden gems, I’ll pick them up once the season ends. I don’t usually start too many anime, and I continue even less. Once the first episode for each series has aired, I will make a follow-up post discussing which series I dropped and which I will be continuing. The final post will be made once the season is over in which I’ll discuss what I thought about each anime as well as the season as a whole. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Watching

Clockwork Planet:

The cover art looks pretty sweet, and I like the Drama and Fantasy tags. The concept of a story about machinery and a steampunk-esque world sounds worthwhile, so hopefully this turns out good.

Sakurada Reset:

This looks like a fun little series, of which I’m feeling a similarity to Orange. Hopefully this series turns out well since I do like the idea of a mystery series with time travel involved.

Re:Creators:

I’ve been watching a bit of mecha anime recently so that tag caught my eye. It’s been a while since I’ve watched an airing mecha show so this could be fun.

Boku no Hero Academia Season 2:

The first season was decent. The world was good enough to keep me watching for 13 episodes and the final few episodes were action-packed. The introduction of the new group of villains and the exciting fights at the end of season one had me plenty interested to see where the next season would go.

Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2:

This anime is probably going to be entertaining in the least. I found the first season to have an interesting premise but wasn’t as hype as many followers claimed it to be. I’ll mostly be picking this up because I’m curious to see where the story goes.

Sakura Quest:

An original anime always is welcome, and this anime seems to be a slice of life show that centers around the work environment, a genre I seem to be drawn towards after Shirobako. This could be fun.

Tsuki Ga Kirei:

Seeing Studio feel work on this was enough to get me interested. (Oregairu S3 never)From the premise, this could either end up being a touching series about the bonds of friendship, or end up like another typical high school anime. Either way, I have a feeling (no pun intended) that this will turn out to be one of the better shows of the season.

Fukumenkei Noise:

A shoujo anime about music with the possibility of romance? Sign me up. I always seem to like shoujo anime more that shounen anime so I’ll be watching this simply due to that.

Gin No Guardian:

This is based of a digital manhua about video games. Looks like another “trapped inside a video game” anime but the premise seems fairly interesting so I’ll be checking this out

Trying

Sword Oratoria:

The studio mostly has me interested here. J.C Staff has done some good stuff previously that I liked so I’m going to at least try this anime. That being said, it’s a based off a fantasy light novel which makes me a bit weary.

Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho:

Once again, I’ll be giving this show a shot purely because it’s Whitefox and their recent Re:Zero was a highpoint last summer.

Eromanga-sensei:

This will most definitely end up terribly, or be my guilty pleasure of the season.

Films/OVA

Koe no Katachi:

Hopefully the wait has been worth it. Plus, I’m a big fan of Kyoto Animation so it should be top notch animation and artwork.

Mobile Suit Gundam Season 2:

More wonderful jazz music and brilliant mecha battles. This will be great. I loved the original OVA series quite a bit so this should hopefully be just as good.

Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari:

For the sake of redundancy, the mecha and drama tag caught my attention. The premise doesn’t seem too “good” but the story seems interesting.

Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome:

The cover art had a neat style and the story focuses on college aged characters which appeals to me more. Could be a decent film.

Blame! The Movie:

For once, CGI looks pretty nice and I heard that the manga is good, so I’ll be giving this a shot.

 

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Koe no Katachi

Posted in anime, Seasonal | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A Discussion Of Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls

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“Cinderella Girls is a good anime, but a terrible Idolm@ster show.”

The first season of Idolm@ster left a great impression on me and convinced me to continue on with the series and watch the next installment which is Cinderella Girls. This new season has new girls with a new production studio but still falls into the same universe and idol drama as the first, but while I was watching Cinderella Girls, something felt off.

After the first 3ish episodes, I texted my friend about Idolm@ster telling him that I can’t seem to get to like the characters from Cinderella Girls. He reassured me that it will get better and I just had to stick with it. However, as I trudged through the episodes, I found myself losing interest in the story, the characters seemed really boring and got annoying, and I couldn’t find the motivation to finish it. I took a week long break from anime to gather my thoughts about this series and maybe come to a conclusion why I felt so unsatisfied with Cinderella Girls.

During my brief hiatus, I watched some western films and cartoons to pass time. My realization came when I was after my rewatch of the Breakfast Club. I absolutely adore that film, it’s near the top of my favorites films of the 80’s and is a great throwback to that time, but I digress. One of my favorite parts about that film are the characters and their interactions with each other despite their obvious differences. That made me think about Idom@ster. I realized that one of my favorite things about the first season were the lovable characters and lighthearted atmosphere., something Cinderella Girls seemed to lack. Let me explain.

The original series was a lighthearted slice of life show that just so happened to track the lives of the girls from 765 Productions. There were much more episodes dedicated towards the development of the characters and the production team when compared to the amount of episodes dedicated towards the actual idol work. This season also tracks how these girls grow from relatively unknown to massive popularity and how this affects their relationships, something I really liked. We got to see how the popularity of being an idol in Japan is and how the idol industry works. (but of course there are thinks that were most likely left unsaid)

Cinderella Girls always seemed like it was trying to be the first season, but miserably failed in doing so. I never felt like there was a moment when all of the girls got together and had fun, it was all work and felt too “calculated.” This problem became a realization to me when I was on episode 10 and I couldn’t remember half of the names for the characters, something I didn’t have a problem with on the first season. I probably only cared for two or three characters in this series, partially due to prior knowledge with them or bias towards a certain archetype. I never felt like the characters were really a part of something together, and felt as if the author and director calculated equal amounts of screen time for each character.

An anonymous dude on the internet said something along the lines of: “Cinderella Girls felt like it was directed by someones who likes anime, while the first season felt like it was directed by a fan of Idolm@ster.” There was a clear difference in the first season and the second, and the passion from the production side of the anime didn’t feel like it was there. That being said, the songs were much better in Cinderella Girls but that doesn’t make up for the lack of feeling behind them. Everything felt rushed and devoid of feeling, almost cold. Overall, Cinderella Girls wasn’t a terrible anime, but you don’t need to go our of your way to watch it unless your an Idolm@ster fan already.

 

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Anastasia best girl 🙂

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A Brief Discussion Of Viewing Habits

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Occasionally I browse /r/anime purely to check links to people’s MAL pages. It is truly mind blowing to see some people who hang around the anime community that have seen over 500 shows. But like anything, this makes me feel unqualified to write about anime due to what seems like my lack of background knowledge when compared to other fans of the medium. I’ve also heard other content creators discuss this issue, explaining how there always seems to be another person online who seems to know more about a subject than you, but does that really matter? This idea inspired me to discuss the enjoyment of art over the quality of art in one of my previous blogs which also leads the the core of this blog; does the amount of anime you watch make you more knowledgeable about the medium? I’m also going to touch on some viewing habits that I have, as well as what I have observed by hanging around the community.

Personally, I consider myself to be a bit of an outlier when it comes to consuming anime. When I started watching anime a few years ago, I would watch a few episodes of a particular show each day, and would go a few weeks without watching anything else after completing it. I never was really involved with the social aspect of the anime community up until recently, so I was left to myself to think about the ideas introduced in each series. This inspired me to start writing about anime, mostly rambling (a style I continue to this day) and would just save these pages of text to my hard drive and not really think much of them. After a while, I ceased to be a “casual” viewer when I started getting into more “obscure shows” when looked at from a public perspective. These shows were cult hits of the anime community such as “Steins;Gate,” “Bakemonogatari,” and of course, “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” These were some of the first shows that really pushed my further into the void. Around this time was also the first time I started to do anime binge sessions, in which I would watch around 9 or 10 episodes in one sitting, but this began to change as of recent. Some of my online friends seems to pull of 15+ episode binges as ease which seems unfathomable for me. I by no means have a short attention span but sometimes I like to introduce some variety into my viewing session. Recently I have started to watch two shows at a time, or interrupting my viewing of a series by throwing a film into the mix.

My change in viewing habits have also led to something I consider “Saving Anime.” No, I am not referring to Studio Trigger’s popular release, rather the practice where I save certain anime so they can be viewed at a particular moment in my life. These are usually shows I am fairly certain will be to my liking, so I save them for a special time where I can “maximize” my enjoyment of it. The example I like to discuss when I mention this idea is one of my recent favorites, “Welcome To The NHK.” I will not deny the fact that I’m very unsociable, I prefer to spend my days indoors in front of a computer screen watching two-dimensional anime girls do cute things, so when I first heard about an anime with a main character who was a shut-in NEET, I thought it would be a quality experience to watch it. I was already familiar with the concept of being a hikkikomori, which Satou is in the aforementioned anime, and this was something that I wished not to be but was slowly moving towards. I waited until a lonely night after finals and popped in the first disc of this anime. (I had already purchase this series because I knew that I would like it) Watching this anime was quite the experience, a very humorous approach at the idea of being an outcast to society and not being able to fit in, which I only was able to understand to a certain extent. I’ll save you the effort of hearing me ramble more about NHK by summarizing my time with it as being extremely enjoyable and emotionally impactful. The reason for this is what I credit to my idea of maximizing enjoyment through saving an anime for a special moment.

Sometimes I feel like some people, myself guilty of this as well, to simply watch an anime simply to mark it off as “Watched” on your list. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you stand back and see your list with a few hundred anime completed and the ability to say that you’ve seen the “important” shows that everyone seems discuss all the time. However, I feel like this isn’t necessarily the best thing because this practice doesn’t allow for much personal enjoyment into the equation. Often, people tell me that they feel like they’re less of a fan because they haven’t seen a big show like “Cowboy Bebop” or “Serial Experiments Lain,” but I reassure them that they have just as important of an opinion as a “well-cultured” who’s seen those shows. I feel like anime should only be seen if you genuinely want to watch them, and you should never watch a show because “everyone seems to talk about it” or because you want to add them to your completed shows. This may come off as a bit “preachy” but I value the importance of personal enjoyment over the ability to seem like a knowledgeable fan. Because of this, I go through an expensive process when picking a new anime to watch which usually involves a few hours of research online by looking through ANN articles, youtube videos, fanart and sometimes listening to some songs from the OST. I like to get invested with the anime which, I believe leads to my ability to enjoy is much more.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you consume anime because it is your decision. I just wanted to bring to attention that sometimes you don’t have to watch a certain series because the anime community seems to condemn you for not watching it, rather, watch shows that make you happy. Additionally, maybe try the practice of “Saving Anime” and let me know how that works out for you, or maybe you have already been doing something similar for years and love it. If you have, I’d love to hear about a show that was more impactful because of this. Anyways, thanks for reading my incoherent thoughts, have a nice day.

Go enjoy some anime!

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