There are great works of literature on disability. Rather than focusing only on the helplessness of disabled individuals, they turn into affirmations of life. These works serve as important reminders that it is doing what you can that counts, not lamenting what you can’t do.
Helen ESP, on the other hand, takes ignoring one’s disabilities so literally that it is difficult to say the main character is really handicapped. The title character, Helen, is a blind-deaf-mute ripoff of Helen Keller who uses ESP to sense her surroundings and telepathically hold long conversations with her guide dog about subjects as diverse as spirituality, the human condition, and physics. One might give author Kigitsu Katsuhisa credit for the bizarre novelty of reducing a disability to a fashion statement, except that in American comics Daredevil has already done the “disabled superhero” concept for decades, with a titular character that uses “sonar” to “see.”
I finally know why I am participating in ISML, and why it is so important for all otaku. It is not as a lone individual that I draw forth my will, or set my fingers in motion. But it is as a lone individual that I experience these events, and the realization of this truth is important to understanding.
It was as a joke that I first compared participation in the ISML campaign to participation in the world of budo, but I find now that it is increasingly accurate. Why did warriors fight? Why did proud samurai learn the sword? Was it merely for power? Merely to offer violence? No. The path of the sword is surely a journey of self-discovery and spiritual realization even as it is outwardly the acquisition of a skill set, and similarly the path of ISML is one of reflection and self-knowledge even as it is outwardly the victory of one’s waifu.
We come to the deepest and the most emotionally stirring volume of Bleach so far, with the “6/17” arc that covers the entire tankoubon. It’s a summation of many of the themes that have been touched on about death and dying so far in the series.
Two major categories have sprung up in anime discourse. There are referential anime such as Yakitate Japan and Lucky Star, and there are anime which are designed to be watched with no prior knowledge of anime, such as Bleach and Naruto. In keeping with the concept that otaku culture is like a language to be learned, I will refer to the former as “advanced” anime and the latter as “beginner” anime.
Obviously this is a simplification. These categories are not pure and exclusive. Many essentially non-referential shows, such as Full Metal Panic, still have the occasional reference. Heavily referential shows such as Genshiken or Dai Mahou Touge can still be watched without getting all the references. Overall, however, there is an increasing creep of metatextual issues into the actual body of anime that air each season.
Recently, with the help of a Borders gift card, I acquired volumes 1-21 of the Bleach manga in a big box set! I’m not a total stranger to the franchise–I watched the first season of the anime a few years ago–but I am new to the manga, and I’ve decided to embark on a blogging journey and write a few things about each volume I read. Much of the story will be familiar at first, as I cover the ground from the anime’s first season, but I’m looking forward to the parts of the story that are new to me.
So without further ado, here’s my thoughts on Bleach, volume 1.
Have you noticed that Anime Diet Radio has been talking a bit more about weird Japan news and not as much about anime lately? Well, this (rather late, I know) episode changes all that. Every story and the roundtable topic are, at last, actually all related to anime for a change! Whether it’s talking about Keanu Reeves’ Cowboy Bebop (and what Sunrise has for an escape clause should it turn out…badly), Evangelion boxer shorts, or a man whose sole desire in life is to get together with a Pokemon, it’s a return to our roots. We even talk about an actual show for the Roundtable, Asu no Yoichi–again, rather late, I know. This was recorded before the last season had quite ended.
Which means, alas, that many of your listener comments were missed on this episode–we only had 5 at the time we recorded this, and we know there are 4 more that have arrived since then. Thanks! We will answer them in the next recording, which hopefully will be very soon.
A couple of notes: first, thanks to Ray for helping out with the majority of the sound effects for this episode. I think you’ll find them…striking. :) Second, apologies for the clipping on my voice. I have got to learn to set levels properly while I record, though for some really odd reason, I can’t monitor them when I’m using Audio Hijack Pro for recording. (Anyone got any tips on how to do it with that piece of software? Mac only, I know…)
–(04:27-11:59) News 1: Sunrise’s Escape Clause
–(12:00-17:53) News 2: Evangelion Boxer Shorts
–(17:54-24:46) News 3: Man/Pokemon Action
–(37:30-49:53) Roundtable: Asu no Yoichi
OP: “HANAJI” by Yu Kobayashi (OP to Mariaholic)
ED: “Life and proud” by Aki Misato (ED to Asu no Yoichi)
The original news story about Sunrise’s additional escape clause for the Cowboy Bebop script is at Anime News Network [http://tinyurl.com/c7ga7z].
An earlier review of Souten Kouro, a new spring season anime starring Cao Cao (Sousou) as its lead, resulted in several requests for an English-language version. As of review time, there were no known translations in the works. However, determined fans of Romance of the Three Kingdoms can take heart: Kesenai Subs have announced that they will be translating Souten Kouro. The first episode is expected later this week.
Fans interested in supporting anime should, of course, buy the DVDs when they become available.
Souten Kouro is about as GAR as it is possible to be without breaking the fourth wall. (It doesn’t quite equal the manliness of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is so GAR that it defies reality, but it is completely serious about it.) The animators have used epic battlefield spreads, panoramic zoom, and other sweeping gestures to further the mood. If the viewer didn’t already know from the fact that it is derived from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the opening makes it clear that this show is going to be about blood, death, and brotherhood.