Tag Archives: sci-fi

Diary of an Anime Lived: The Slice-of-Life Age, Part 1

Or, a caricature of how anime has evolved in the last 15 years.

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.

Would the Ender's Game manga look like this?

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.

 

A Certain Scientific Railgun 04 – the curse of the undressing Otaku

Just about everything is turning out quite different from the manga.

It’s a pleasant surprise though, because it’s a different type of fun. We’re not abruptly introduced to Mikoto’s arch enemy/love interest Toma,  instead, a little bit of intrigue is thrown in and we start to wonder a little about the so-called Academy City Urban Legends. But of course, the main reason for talking about that in this episode is to introduce two important people – love interest (no it’s not a spoiler), and that strange researcher Kiyama Harumi, played by Major Kusanagi I mean Tanaka Atsuko.

Like I said, so far I like the changes in character dynamics and how there are increased interactions and that we’re not suddenly introduced to an important character. The characters play off each other, which adds a wonderful energy flow through the show. It’s funnier and quirkier and even more charming than the manga.

This introduction is like an ambush; for those of you who doesn’t know the story or hasn’t read the manga or the novel, I believe it will be a wonderful surprise later.

You know, I like Kiyama Harumi already, I mean what a sensible woman (lol), if it’s too damned hot, just take off your blouse! You’re wearing a bra anyway! And if your skirt is soiled, just take it off! You’re wearing pantyhose and pantsu anyway! Fuck, why does it make perfect sense to me? XD

Tanaka Atsuko is a wonderful seiyuu; she can play sexy, serious, tough, sarcastic, silly, out-of-it…Just about anything. She will be fun to watch. Kuroko is damn funny and it’s priceless comedy gold when she shakes Uiharu like a madwoman.

All in all, good stuff abound.

Don’t you know Sci-Fi often predicts the future?

From Ascii.jp via ANN

Robot Sings, Youtube Piano – seeing music of the future at CEATEC

Through iPhone application Request, one can make HRP-4C Robot sing Hatsune Miku songs.

Ray’s Take: God damn it! That’s their first step of taking over! Instead of working under the disguise of a military program, they pretend to be stupid virtual idols and fembots! At the beginning of the last century, flying and going into space used to be Sci-Fi (not Syfy) elements. Look how far that has gone! Don’t you know? Remember in Macross Plus, Sharon Apple ended up taking over SDF rebuild? Man oh man nobody ever listens…

Lol. XD

I actually hope Chobit and Multi caliber girl robots are possible…