Chitose and Chizuru – what a sister combo! It’s just f’ing awesome that Chitose and Chizuru both fantasizes like crazy. And I feel like Ayano, spinning round and round trying to wipe their bodily fluids off their faces!
Wow! That imagery was so wrong! But that’s part of what I like about this show, cheesy and not afraid to be cheesy, and never forgets not to take itself serious at any moment. Most important of all, it’s (bad but good) chicken soup for the Otaku soul!
It simply caters to me and others like me and it throws reasons out of window, and does it with energy and vibrancy, how can I not love it? All the yuriness leaking and dripping from all corners of the screen and yet not obnoxious or overtly sexual, it’s the perfect summer show for me to chill out, I say, “why not”?
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 ongoingDiary of an Anime Livedseries, which is a blogosphere-wide series of articles about the intersection of anime and personal life.
Is it a slice of life (an overabused term)? I guess so.
So…What’s this show about?
In a small Japanese town city, there lives a girl with plenty of energy, nearly always on the happyside (almost tripping) and manages to come up with silly ideas that makes the audience smile. You know one of these silly girls. She works at a recently converted maid cafe. The owner, an old lady(?) who has watched her growing up, decided to convert it into a maid cafe because “oh, it’s popular”.
In today’s episode, Hotori battles a world that turns itself against her. Her home life is loud and annoying, her ideas get turn down at work and all the old guys in town are hoping to see her boobs get bigger. Is there anything more slice-of-lifery than that?
Not hardly. Althought the reviews across the anisphere are less than enthusiastic, I personally think it’s a tiny little bit refreshing change from the usual stuff. I do have to admit, it’s a little bland.
You know the disease that movie critics get because they watched so many movies that they’re never impressed with anything, even if the anything means Star Wars, Titanic and even Citizen Kane? NO, of course I’m not comparing this particular show with these movies. I’m just saying, as I’m getting back to the basics of living without the extravagance, I’ve become more appreciative for small shows like these or shows that sticks to the basics of a genre.
Oh and, the shots up Hotori’s ass gets a little bit distracting for a non-service show. But what the heck. The silly and energic girl next door will probably cheer enough people up in this shitty year. And that’s a perfectly good charming point.
Okay, so its time to spend a few moments out of my usual musings about anime’s past, and take a peek at some of this new season’s bigger television offerings. Based upon word-of-mouth, as well as the occasional read-up, these choices only nail a few that I’ve been picking out of the running. Again, most of these are based upon what I hoped would stand out among this season’s heap. So if I missed anything, it is either because it didn’t really give me reason to be curious, or it’s just those pesky time constraints again.
So let’s have at it, shall we?
There’s something about Akiyuki Shinbo anime that just doesn’t connect with me. I have tried to absorb the works of whom many consider to be the savior of anime hipsters everywhere, only to give up in disappointment. This is unusual for me, as I’ve often been a large defender for directors who break a sweat, and do something new with the medium. And yet, there’s something to Shinbo’s arsenal of wild takes, cultural references, and constant monologuing that just neutralizes any molecule of enjoyment for me. Oh sure, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei was a riot at times, but that was merely due to the source material’s razor sharp wit.
So when I think of Arakawa Under The Bridge, I can’t help but feel relieved that it isn’t nearly as obtuse as Bakemonogatari, but remains as distant as ever.
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.
For all you loli fans out there, you may want to wait for the DVD to come out, but in any case…
Today, we get to learn about Mika’s dere-dere side concerning dogs. It’s really a cute and a small heart warming story being told by a girl. What could be better than that?
For anyone who was waiting for Haruka to get her way with the two prime lolis, you may become disappointed. She is tied up and never gets to either of them.
This is one of those healing episodes where girls spend time with a dog and all feminine cuteness radiates throughout the episode.
Oh, and Kana thinks she needs to go on a diet because her butt is bigger but her chest isn’t (thanks to Haruka keeping tab on these things), and she decides to get on a diet. Yume and Yuki encourages and finds a way for her to get on a “healthier” diet, which involves wearing a Disney-esque costume and delivering newspaper in the heat.
For all the scenes of Kana in her undies and even ripping open her shorts, please say: “DVD.”
Do you also live in a bustling city? I sometimes pity us city dwellers.
The relaxed and nature filled feeling is just isn’t meant to be.
Yeah, the country side is boring. But the city is too busy and just plain annoying sometimes. But hey, we’re people, and that means no matter where we are, we’ll never be quite content. That’s possibly due the nature of humanity.
There really isn’t that much to say about this episode. There are more observations that Sora makes. Her team member for the sketch party, Kurihara, is very happy to be in the nature.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived in a city too long that I’ve forgotten how to take a deep breath and relax (well, with all that smog, who wants to take a deep breath).
If you remember, in summer sometimes it just doesn’t rain (I guess it depends on where you live/lived) , but sometimes it’s hot and humid but the rain just refuses to come down. That anticipation by all the living things are just unbearable…Until the rain finally comes down. All the stored up humidity and heat go away and it’s cool all of a sudden. Your dog dances in joy and the frogs sings in happiness alongside with the quacking of ducks.
It’s a wonderful feeling, and feelings about nature and observations is what this episode is about, so I’ll say,
76% recommended for your daily anime diet. It’s great to have a chill out anime, and even though this isn’t as funny as Azumanga Daioh, the simplicity and the easiness make this show a great choice for chilling out.
It’s a great feeling able to chill out without drugs or booze and enjoy girls in yukata and geta/sandals, or do something completely different from routine and discover life’s little surprises along the way…