Natsuyuki Rendezvous, a reclamation of the virtues of josei storytelling for the Noitamina block, goes beyond standard love triangle cliches to closely examine just how people move on—as opposed to get over—their grief. The emotional gravity of the show lies there rather than in the romance that sets it off.
Ray and I are back in our first entry in the Face Off series in years…and this time we’re talking about one of the most talked about shows this season, the high school body swapping drama Kokoro Connect. The strengths and the weaknesses of the show are well-known by now—the great acting, the questionable resolution of girls’ problems, among other things—and Ray and I cover a lot of that ground, and more. We especially discuss the impact of the 5th episode, which contained many shocking events and threw into question some of the assumptions we’ve made about the characters—especially “selfless freak” Taichi.
For the time being it’s going to be audio-only, but I’m going to try to see if I can do an auto-transcript with the new transcription abilities on my computer and tablet sometime later. In the meantime—enjoy!
The first period of my anime fandom ended with my college years. While I never stopped watching anime, the age of discovery was over, and I saw relatively few new shows from 2003-2005. By the time I returned to active fandom in 2006, an entire generational shift had happened in anime.
Today, many of the most popular, acclaimed anime TV series are labeled “slice-of-life” shows: tragicomedies about the ups and downs of ordinary life like Honey and Clover, or quirky, plot-light ensemble comedies like Azumanga Daioh or K-ON!. It’s quite a shift from the kind of SF/fantasy anime that were being held up as exemplars in the late 1990s, back when I first became an anime fan, and it’s a shift that seems to track with the way my own life has changed since then.
Part 1: F&SF&E(va)
I have been a fantasy and science-fiction fan all of my life, and I started writing my own stories in those genres in elementary school. Being a stereotypical kind of nerd, complete with the thick glasses and the social awkwardness, the book that most moved and reassured me was Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Ender was both brutalized and brutal, a child praised and cursed with his gifts and the responsibilities they carried, and unable to relate to other children normally as a result. Card, at his best, portrayed characters with both compassion and hard-edged honesty about their flaws, particularly in the sequel, Speaker For The Dead. Despite my voracious appetite for novels by David Eddings, Terry Brooks, and Isaac Asimov, I never could find another SF writer who quite managed that balance in my younger years. His stories were not just cool, but moving, and true to the human condition as I understood then.
My attraction to anime was, at first, an extension of my love of SF and fantasy. Record of Lodoss Wars was actually the first anime I watched all the way through—and despite its rather elementary plot, it fulfilled my appetite for a different take on traditional Western fantasy. Ghost in the Shell of course fit the cerebral SF mold, not too unlike stories by Arthur C. Clarke or the movie Blade Runner. Akira at least had spectacle and the post-apocalyptic mood.
As many of you know, though, none of those shows captured my heart the way Neon Genesis Evangelion did. The words I used back then was: “this is a Japanese Ender’s Game.” On some forum in the deep recesses of the Internet, in 2001-2002, there are posts by me arguing the very same. While Ender and Shinji are very different characters, the situations they are thrust within are very similar: world-consequential battles where they have little say in their fates. Shinji, though, was much more “Asian” than Ender, the product of the parental neglect and tyranny endemic to many Asian and Asian-American households. It was easy for me to identify with him, and more closely than I could with Ender. And Eva at its best also had the same mix of brutality and compassion which I found so compelling in Card’s novels, though perhaps Anno was harder on his protagonists than Card ultimately was. There was a sense that he was expiating his own sins and trying to warn otaku of going down the same road in the original series and movies, a raw confessionalism that the polished remakes seem to lack.
I needed that hardness, that unflinching glance at the depths back then. Catharsis isn’t supposed to be painless. It felt like a new experience, to see a ”cartoon” do the sort of thing that Ender’s Game and Speaker For the Dead had done for me years before. And while it was new, it was also deeply continuous with my love of SF/F. Anime wasn’t really a separate thing for me then. It was one more notch alongside my copies of A Canticle for Leibowitz and Lord of the Rings and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
My voracious search for information about anime began around that time, and I discovered an entire world of anime and gaming that drew upon Eva’s well of dark, psychological SF. There was the story of Final Fantasy VII, Serial Experiments: Lain, and the later homage RahXephon. There were parodies, like Martian Successor Nadesico and Vandread. And if I wasn’t in the mood for SF, most anime series contained some fantastical elements, and not necessarily of the Western medieval variety like in Slayers or Lodoss Wars. Even the romances, which I was just beginning to discover, had overt fantasy elements: Ah My Goddess!, Kimagure Orange Road, Video Girl Ai, to name a few.
There were, in short, few shows that had no fantasy or SF elements on the radar of my fandom then. Little did I know that in those days, from 1999-2003—my college years, and the first period of my fandom—the ground had already begun to shift in the anime landscape.
To be continued in part 2: the hinge years
This is part of 21stcenturydigitalboy’s ongoing Diary of an Anime Livedseries, which is a blogosphere-wide series of articles about the intersection of anime and personal life.
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. My bias is on and I’m all for this show. The tension between the cats women duking it out with weapons and their haughty attitudes is just unbearable! Man, I’ll bet that if girls in all female schools had these kind of power and weapons, they’d fight just as fierce and harsh, too. Gentelmen, here’s a thing about women’s cirlces – they’re tight, scary competitive, and sharp. Oh yeah.
Well, Satellizer loses to Garnessa, and of course, as a good shonen sennan plot, Garness goes to her and boasts. Hey, which girl with any pride would turn down a good fight, especially when the girls all have proper manly weapons? Really? Verbal conflict? NAH! I’m sure women get fucking pissed off and wish they had the power to wield large weapons, which is why Dynasty Warriors are very popular among women in Japan! I mean after all, women just don’t have that much fighting power and therefore, it must feel good to be able to wield hugh blades, eh? What, they’re humans, too! Large guns and big blades really CAN ensure safety and even knockout some annoying fuckers, right?
All right, all that speculations aside, the conflicts are basic shonen stuff but is well done. The fight scene is good and the women ended up being naked after the fights helps a lot too. The male protagnonist is actually more annoying than in the manga because in the show, he managed to put his hand on Satellizer (I’m gonna call her Sate-Ma-chan as a combination of Satellizer and Mamiko) too many times. Yes, we get the point. Sate-ma-chan is OK with you touching her. Fine, fine, fine. But Hezus, before I was aware of it, the episode ended and I’m glad that I was having beer with it.The show reall grabbed my attention because it was fun without being shitty low-brow!
No, I won’t pretend that there’s sophistication in this show, but no, I actually don’t see it as an equivolent of a third rate movie, either. Because the voice acting and the animation skills as well as the magification of women’s conflict in women’s circles is realistc (what the fuck does me, a man, know) seems realistic to me. I’m biased because I enjoy the manga at least untli the recent volume, and I like the pacing, the action, and the realistic (?) portrayal of women’s competitiveness.
A+++ and no pistol salutes needed.
…You wanna know why a lot of popular movies are ripped to shreds (including the original Star Wars)? Because critics are cynics.
Yes, Ray declares another defeat. He ripped Occult Academy to pieces and then watched the last episode. No, the last episode isn’t super great. But at least, it kind of redeems itself.
Even if it’s just a little.
Finally, some good stuff. Is the manga even better? If it is, I want to purchase a copy.
Also, finally, the modified Shinboism is working.
(Note: I’ve stopped treating this show as the supposed mega hit of the season. Instead, I now see it as any other show)
I sat silently for a while after watching the last installment of Kara no Kyoukai (空の境界: The Garden of Sinners). Sometimes, I gazed at the screen in utter disbelief, other times, I felt shocked and dismayed. But my appreciation grew and I began to wonder about a variety of story elements.
Well, episode 6 really wasn’t anything special. Not bad, just more of the same. The cast rounds out a bit more with the introduction of Kotone and Akari Kirishima, the twin daughters of the local (somewhat lecherous yet kindly) monk. Typical twin story elements occur (mistaking one for the other and etc.) as Kotone is attracted to Junpei because of his misfortune (maybe she’s a reverse vampire?) and Akari beating him up thinking he is a pervert.
Additionally the story from episode 5 continues with Mizuno trying to figure out if Junpei really feels the way Nagi told her he does, and what exactly his relationships with all these other woman truly are. That said.. nothing really develops on that front that wasn’t already established last episode aside from two new characters (the twins) to be confused by. Sadly, Nagi and Kanako have little screen time this episode as well. I say sadly because they are by far the most interesting characters in Nyan Koi (along with Junpei). They deserve more screen time.
Animation this time around is still great, though some might be upset because of the blatantly censored out pantsu shots. I wonder what they will do for episode 7 which looks to be the hot springs episode every comedic anime is required to have at least one of.
Episode 6 Grade – B
Why are there the demon swords? Why were they made? Or rather, who made them and how they came about?
Apparently, there are different demon swords and it is rather interesting to observe why some of them are able to transform into people and others can’t.
Even as a psudo-filler episode, there are questions about the origin of weapons and the reason why Charolette is working so hard and in extension, what is the meaning behind her hardship. We get hints that she never lived like a real princess during her life up to now.
(Of course if you already read the novel you would know why)
The response of the empire seems to be actually reasonable but in the anime, we are seeing more the behind the scenes plots and one has to wonder the role Siegfried plays in this. In my opinion, if Charolette and CO. really have no importance whatsoever, the empire would not ask for their return and execution. They could very well ignore them.
The show is progressing rather slowly and almost following the pacing of the novel to the T, which means that it’s not going to go very far if this season is 13 episodes (remember anime used to be 26 episodes). I’m impressed by the acting but not so much with the fantasy-light settings and the character personalities. A red-haired girl is brash and refuses to admit her feelings is very stereotypical.
Finally, the black lady who transforms into the huge sword is played by Yukino Satsuki; how far she has fallen from her prime! I suspect it’s because she’s not good looking and young. Today’s anime industry has this problem – the younger and the cuter the better, never mind real voice acting skills. I mean, really, do any of the girls today compare with the veterans of old (Megumi, Kotono, Hisakawa Aya, et el)? Even Rierie seems to be playing tiny roles these days. Hell, even Nabame is falling into the camp of secondary roles.
I didn’t notice that many animation breakdown. But for whateer odd reason, I’m just not that impressed with this fantasy-lite anime.
Few years ago, when both Lupin the 3rd and Case Closed were airing on Adult Swim, someone over in the Cartoon Network offices had the brilliant idea to put both shows back to back in the program schedule. Sheer genius. This “Lupin and Conan Power Hour” as I had dubbed it, was my favorite hour of television each night. I didn’t care if they were episodes I had already seen a few times before, each night my butt was rooted deeply into the couch, my eyes super-glued to the screen. Two great things that went great together… like liquor and fireworks. So when I heard the first Lupin TV special this year was going to be Lupin the 3rd Vs. Detective Conan, oh man was I stoked. Now that I’ve seen it… well… it wasn’t bad. Continue reading Review: Lupin the 3rd vs. Detective Conan Review