One might be forgiven for thinking that Moritheil is a postmodern literary critic who started reviewing video games in 2001, and spent the early 2000s learning at the right hand of con staff and fansubbers. However, those rumors are spurious: Moritheil is actually a distant relative of Genghis Khan who stands poised to conquer the world via the Internet. Follow along at http://twitter.com/moritheil.
Fans of the definitive danmaku (bullet hell) game by ZUN have been working Touhou characters in everywhere. For all their efforts, however, ExitJMouse may have trumped them. He used Moemon – a reworking of Pokemon with loli monsters – to create his very own stable of Touhou girls!
It’s a little old, truthfully, but with the recent surge of interest in Touhou due to anime, MADs, and appearances in ISML, now is a perfect time to showcase another Touhou-related curiosity.
In our roundtable discussion on whether or not anime is art, Ray brought up an excellent point about that infamous scifi-fantasy-loli-pantsu fanservice vehicle, Strike Witches. To wit, though the show has actual fodder for intellectual discussion, the mere fact that it shows school girls in a permanent pantyshot state renders this moot for the vast majority of viewers. You cannot rehabilitate such a thing, the argument goes. No amount of light will overpower this darkness.
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.
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.
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.
The first episode of Asura Cryin’ is incredibly dense in terms of material. It’s got childhood trauma, self-sacrifice, silly friend antics, social commentary, ghost haunting, high school romantic comedy, family drama, magical girls, split personalities, underground societies, potential harem, and mecha all rolled into one. Did I miss anything?
The story begins with a scene of ruin. The protagonist, Tomo, suffered serious injuries in an accident, and a mysterious magical girlfriend from the Goddess Agency – no, wait, that’s not quite it. A mysterious girl reassured him that he would live, as he lay on a hospital bed. Flash forward to the present. It’s clear that he’s now trying to live a normal life, just as it’s clear that the accident is of great importance and that something mysterious happened. This entire setup happens in under a minute. Asura Cryin’ is efficient.
While K-ON devours the souls of the moe crowd and Full Metal Alchemist helps people remember a time before the present economic crisis, Bleach heads into yet another season of shounen mass appeal. Though I previously had some thoughts about how Bleach is better in terms of depth and execution than the vast majority of shounen shows, the fact remains that it is increasingly bound by the limitations of its genre. Significant problems with power level escalation and a need to maintain already-introduced characters bog down the story. In the manga, this has already led to some ridiculousness – replacing character speech with random song lyrics has no real effect on the intelligibility of the action, which demonstrates just how worthless the dialogue has become.
Bleach 213 is an extended parody of sentai shows that lasts the entire episode. This is a serious problem, as even at the end of the episode, they opt for the clichéd “To Be Continued . . . ” closing rather than ending the farce. In other words, the B-string crew of Bleach will now get an entire season to themselves, and quite likely, they will be parodying sentai tropes all the way through.
Darker than Black begins with a placid and yet inauspicious scene. A girl stands before a majestic night sky, as stars fall down. The quiet piano notes that accompany it hint of the beauty, wonder, and terror to come. We are then thrown, as is so often the case, in media res. A man evades his pursuers. His desperation is evident in the speed with which he hurtles down narrow walkways and leaps across rooftop gaps.
Immediately something is amiss, even if we can’t put our finger on it. Why would a man hunted by the police run in the same direction that police cars were traveling? Even if he was confident in his ability to escape capture by drawing upon his contract, why would he reveal this power to them? He doesn’t seem to thrill in fights or thumbing his nose; his demeanor remains serious throughout. In this manner, Darker than Black builds up many puzzles over the course of its story, lending to the mystery of the series. Continue reading Darker than Black: Anime Noir – Decompresed Review→