If you had asked me two weeks ago if I was headed out this year toward the Los Angeles Convention Center for the anime celebration of the west coast, I likely would have given you a proud “no”. Truth is, that after last year’s record attendance, and a lack of compelling guests or panels, it has become harder and harder to keep this convention momentum up. After nearly two decades of this one has to pick and choose their battles, and last year left me parched in the desert save for another chance to catch up with old friends, industry and beyond. So this year was meant to be something of a vacation from what used to be a popular personal vacation destination. I know, sounds pretty silly now, but considering what the medium has meant to me in the wake of Evangelion, one would hope noone would begrudge me the will to catch a breath. So when the grapevine juiced up with the promise of a twentieth anniversary featuring none other than NGE’s pop muse herself,Yoko Takahashi, it felt like something that just wouldn’t allow for my smug avoidance of this now major, mainstream gathering.
So in natural Winter form, I arrived at Hall B far earlier than I had any right or need to. Not a line had formed as staff had informed me that nothing would be happening until roughly 12:30p, with the show starting at 1:30. It was 10:15. Fine. It’s alright. Not feeling terribly materialistic, so Exhibit Hall is out. Nor am I hungry for overpriced poison, so forget eating. Brought a book with me that I long to finish, so the wall of waiting it is!
How little did I know that the background sounds I was hearing behind me was going to keep me from finishing that next chapter on the densha attendant who moved the packets of sarin gas out of a train in 1995, and that the singing I was hearing was Takahashi herself. My book closed as I leaned over to my back left in disbelief. She had just finished “Zankoku na Tenshi no Tēze”, and had just started with “Fly Me To The Moon”, Wait-is that the Laputa theme? Suddenly, the reality of where I was, and the significance of the whole event began to take a severe kind of hold over my body. A little over 18 years ago, these songs were just beginning their swirl throughout my consciousness like a larva burrowing deep into me in search of a home filled with food and warmth. The songs from Eva have within them a sort of emotional knowing that composer Shiro Sagisu and Takahashi infused within them that seem to understand the unspoken heart of a series that would come to define not only its director, but a generation of myth enthusiasts. The songs become iconographic, kin to GAINAX’s visual presentation and Sadamoto’s character designs. They are an indispensable part of Evangelion’s entire spirit, and every bit as important as the animation.
There was something very intimate, very curious about listening in to the rehearsal that again let me into the show’s own penchant for process. I could just ignore it, and crack open my book again, but this is process. It’s what attracted me to the entire series in the first place. A feeling of “in progress”, never perfect, always seeking the better. I never expected to be treated to such sounds, even if it was clear that the singer was taking it easy on her voice for the moment. This didn’t come with admission, and yet, this is perhaps the highlight of my afternoon.
A few chapters later, the staff at last led us out back to line up for the show which ended up lasting all of about twenty short minutes before we were corralled into a red-tinged Hall B, where the suspense built in spite of itself. And I say in spite of because the 1:30 show had soon become a 1:53 show due to one delay or another (which is expected of AX, but not accompanied by endless loops of Angel Attack–a song that will now gnaw at my brain should one note be uttered again). So when the lights finally went down, and our emcee at last revved the 3000+ crowd up for the afternoon’s festivities, all felt more than ready to experience what I had already done so, this time at 150%.
And what a sweet demon it is..
In truly top form,a winged & horned Takahashi was both deeply friendly and commanding in her performance, which included the aforementioned songs. (with a side of “Tamashii No Rufuran” – a personal favorite) And while she was given a little time to explain with translation help, the video presentation supplied by Shiro Sagisu’s company (a public premiere), and her upcoming compilation album, her appearance was meant to be but part of a larger whole presented by the folks at Bang Zoom! Entertainment. The prolific dub studio also hosted a charming cosplay contest, a voice acting demo featuring ADV dub veterans, Tiffany Grant, Matt Greenfield, and the inimitable Amanda Winn Lee, and music by ALICE Underground & Eru. And while I couldn’t be happier to see such personal favorites come by for a spell, it was Takahashi’s presence that hinted at an event that never truly materialized. But one can just call this me being greedy, which is more than likely true.
In all, the music was powerful yet brief, the appearances sweet but fleeting. And while I could certainly appreciate everyone for pulling this together with the resources they had, one could also make the case that we at Anime Expo were getting something more akin to a digest celebration. A series of tasteful morsels without going full banquet. Even when the crowd chanted for an encore, the repeat of “Thesis” only hinted at something that could be just that more involved. Or perhaps again, this is my curse of Evangelion. It always leaves me wanting more. Not so much more of the same, but more of that human touch that allows Hideaki Anno’s spirit to reach more of us.
As it is, I felt like all we received was a heartfelt, yet still passing glance as opposed to an intimate glimpse into one of the great modern myths.
Well there was no real way this post could be avoided. After finishing this series and realizing that there was little to no way this couldn’t be openly discussed in mere tweets/Facebook discussions, it finally came to pass that an extended post would have to be made regarding Kunihiko Ikuhara’s return to anime television. The very notion that such a long break from the industry that helped bring his name to international prominence in the mid-to latter 1990s by way of Sailor Moon R, and of course, Utena, it would have been safe to assume that any return could only be a disappointment. It seemed an inevitability considering how dramatically different the state of the medium is today. Or so I woefully assumed.
Taken as an entire piece, Mawaru Penguindrum is an unrepentantly unique, and often visionary series the likes of which may delight older fans, and utterly shut out a good portion of modern anime’s devotees with its treatise on a Japan gone from shattered paradigm to helplessly lost world amidst manufactured dreamscapes. Ikuhara alonsgide Takayo Ikami & Brain’s Base, Penguindrum takes very much the same “process” based cinematic techniques that helped make Utena become one of the most accessible, yet bizarre-on-the-surface titles to have ever made a splash on the international fan scene. The story of sickly Himari, and her two older siblings, Shouma and Kanba remains less about a bizarre quest to save her life from almost certain doom with the help of a penguin-hat sporting princess and a trio of hallucinatory birds, but rather the journey of many through a near concrete thick foundation of denial. It is from this outset, not remotely interested in tropes so much as the subversion of them, all the while spinning a tale of what extremities some feel compelled to go through based on perceived positions. Fate and destiny being something of an established chess board, with all characters merely pieces, often willing to turn to amazingly questionable behavior in the name of altering trajectory, or abiding it.
The biggest difference now is that the ante has been sufficiently upped by no longer setting the central action within and around a mythical school life/incubator space where our main characters could fight their ways through. This new expansion of the discussion pitts the characters within something almost resembling contemporary Tokyo, only with a slightly more advanced technological milieu. In fact, much of what many to consider Cool Japan is hyperbolized within this at times unsettling presentation. Colors are intense with pinks and blues, and structures are often day-glo bright. The interior of one of the most often used settings- the subway, is almost wall-to-wall with moving digital advertisement (often featuring the greek chorus in Double-H, who also serve a core purpose around the story). It is almost as if the entire design aesthetic in itself is a paradoxical reflection of internet pop culture Japan. Thereby universalizing the director’s concerns that haven’t subsided any since his previous masterwork. His concerns are Japan’s concerns. His characters may be living in a world of fairy tales, but they certainly don’t see that. In fact, the two-tone reality shared by the majority of Penguindrum’s characters seems to have cornered them to the point that delusions and/or audacious actions seem reasonable. In anime reality, we are quick to judge, but the show continually calls out the viewer, making the case that even wholly reasonable people are capable of such untoward behavior.
Continuing a 17 Year Old Soul Search
As the parentless Takakura children are further tumbling down the story’s rabbit hole, it becomes apparent that not only they are bound by the illogical in order to maintain a rendition of peace, but as are the lives of virtually everyone around them. The three kids, with the youngest mostly in the dark regarding these forces that apparently hold her life in limbo, are eventually surrounded by characters who also seem primed to overstep their moral bounds in order to attain a semblance of happiness. Carrying on the theme that binds all characters in the series, it is a seemingly generational curse that has even left troubling marks on those who came before our central leads. And the more we get to grasp the lives of Tabuki, one of the boys’ most seemingly level-headed schoolteachers, and stage actress celebrity, Yuri, it becomes all the more apparent that the Takakuras lie close the ground zero of a secret that almost brought the contemporary Japanese conscience to its knees. Even as the inexplicable advances of Masako seem ready to systematically “crush” some undisclosed object close-particularly to Kanba (who’s reputation as something of a playboy belies even stranger secrets). Even more troubling still is the role of pretty, yet seemingly ordinary high schooler, Ringo Oginome. A girl who could so easily be an inocuous entity in the story, becomes an unexpected element that may save or destroy all everyone holds dear. Not unlike the American television series, LOST, perceptions are questioned, rugs are constantly pulled, and Mawaru Penguidrum becomes something that series failed to become in six seasons, a tale of a society within stones throw of a heart hampered by a lack of emotional insight. It isn’t that Japan is screwed, but rather that it stopped looking forward when the chips were down. So as the tension ramps up when history seems bent on repeating itself, the world of the show is primed to either play within these assumed constructs, or break free by acting humanly unpredictable.
A big stumbling block this show may experience in regards to fandom outside Japan, may very well be the reality that much of what is discussed within the its 24 episodes. The entire narrative decidedly centers within a wholly Japan-centric mindset. As westernized as Japan currently is, much of what affects, and ultimately motivates the show’s characters is something more akin to post-WWII psychology. And while this may seem like something that is easy for many acclimated anime admirers to overcome, there is still quite a bit of context that is left intentionally unexplained in the confidence that those aware of their surroundings might pick up on it. Which makes the series an interesting twist on what some detractors have been declaring a growing “insular” movement in anime. This is perhaps an ultimate rendition of how that very movement can create something of cultural value without resorting heavily upon familiar tropes, lest they be toyed with in some signature manner. As visually specacular as this series can be, it’s often at the service of continuing a poem Anno helped spur to introspective life in 1995.
Backtracking a little, it is important to consider that Ikuhara has long been friends with Shin Seiki Evangelion director, Hideaki Anno. An artist who became famous for pulling the veneer away from anime’s “fantasy for its own sake” place of safety with his epoch-making series. A show that was in fact affected by the outside world as terror enveloped the nation as the sarin gas attacks, and subsequent trials pertaining to the cult known as Aum Shinrikyo were taking place on tv screens during that time. A nation half a decade into crippling recession, and such events revealed a growing sense of spiritual panic that came symptomatic of a society long neglectful of its heart as profits went up a decade prior, now broken and brimming with an almost insurmountable amount of confusion ready to burst at any moment. For many, Evangelion provided a much needed pressure valve for these emotions homeside, even as the series became a monstrous media success. But it’s also worth noting that despite many series to retread similar territory (as well as Evangelion’s unfortunate “molding” into safer fabrics over the years), it has often come at the sacrifice of likeable characters, and compelling storytelling. Something with Penguindrum never seems to run short on.
Humoring The Blackness
For a series tackling such heavy themes, one wouldn’t expect the series to continue Ikuhara’s trademark surreal humor. This is something Ikuhara’s contemporary could never take away from him, and it is here in full flower, personal quirks and all. From the often amusing antics of the Takakura family’ s newly adopted penguins, to the clever use of repetition, music, love of the takarazuka, and various spins on fan expectations, the series never lets us forget that we are in an exaggeration of matters. What makes this work so well for me is that despite all the goofy antics, there is often a very character-centric reason for it. Even when the penguins acts reach absurds highs like fighting off an octopus on a window-sill, there is often a lyrical purpose to it all that remains unspoken. The show’s faith in its audience to put everything together while laughing about what could very easily become a harsh melodrama is very hard to achieve, and more often than not, it works toward better helping us understand character dimensions we didn’t realize were apparent upon initial glances. “Show. Don’t tell” is a valuable tool in film, and Ikuhara remains a master of constantly playing with this.
Industry Of Seduction
Which plays quite nicely against the series’ ultimate vision of collective antagonism, the enigmatic Sanitoshi’s belief that it doesn’t matter if fleeting love is what it is, as long as one feels it if even for a brief moment. More extravanant and over the top than even the character of Yuri, Sanitoshi with his hopelessly fujoshi-bait image and voice embodies a youth unwilling to compromise with their mission to undo all around him, no matter the cost. The most ironic element within his penchant for things “eletrifying”, and in the moment, his seemingly magical presence belies something of an unerring addiction to simplified solutions to complex daily problems. With all of his smiles and assurances, there is little in the way of anything truly transformative within his motivations. In fact, it is every bit as binary as the world he seems hellbent to destroy. And like all classic visions of Mephisto, Methusela, and Coyote, he is a soothing, seductive presence fully in the mold of what some fans long to adore, all the while tending to a world of emptiness. He is the face of an artistic medium gone commercially desperate.
Which brings me back to the core of why the series carries with it something that has long eluded anime containing elements of the experimental; a solid sense of purpose. Despite years of post-Evangelion attempts to inject a certain “newness” to certain series, eager to capitalize on a growing mature market, most series have had the unfortunate distinction of either taking themselves far too seriously, or suffering from copycat-ism often symptomatic of shows existing in a newly defined environment. And it isn’t that shows like Bakemonogatari are intrinsically flawed, but rather that they often carry lesser baggage and lack the narrative acumen to reach beyond a specific audience. They ultimately become niches unto themselves, making them not only hard to market, but closer to gallery material better suited to a Murakami exhibit. What Mawaru Penguindrum has that most of these series do not is a truly sneaky package, made all the more potent by being especially meticulous about its messages/questions. There never seems to be a moment wasted, or a shot in it for the mere sake of showing it. Ikuhara has observed anime over the last ten-plus years, and clearly has quite a bit to say about it with imagery that spans the absurdist to the terrifying. Most often asking contradictory questions within the same mise en scene, as if the internet age has accelerated our intake of complexity in how we view the world, and he acknowledges this, even as the drama unfolds. Carefully, and provocatively, it beings back the notion of the auteur to television anime in a way that simply has been missing for quite some time.
Smashing The World’s Blu-ray Case
So when the climax comes, and matters for our heroes have reached their irrevocable conclusion, this is where Ikuhara delivers a passionate plea for not only the medium, but its fans. As our most unlikely characters are forced to rise to a challenge that threatens the future of many, including characters we once thought we knew within how the series initially presented itself, we are visually made aware of a world which Ikuhara seems ready to do away with. One that has essentially caged all of our characters, and led them to this desperate, penultimate moment. We are suddenly shown the destruction of a very vessel that binds many a fan the world over.- A batch of anime dvds/Blu-ray. Which in and of itself could very well have been taken alone as an atypical cinematic means of hammering the point home in a one-sided metaphor. But it is immediately amended when this very vessel becomes the means by which salvation is delivered. Interpretation: Mindless consumption carries none of the value that comes with what is being said within the things we value most. In short; Ikuhara’s distaste for ravenous fan culture & preference for something resembling actual substance is made clear within a mere few seconds of animation.
The world model within the series is rhetorically based on years of buying into invisible assumptions (Often bolstered by consumer culture sturm & drang-Something which even more harshly binds the Japanese.), and the form of the show (not unlike certain characters) seems bent on shattering these illusory traps. It seeks honest answers as opposed to perpetuating ad-hoc, otaku posturing. The show opines that destiny is what we determine with our ever changing expressions of inner personal desire, and not on what we are sold into accepting. The cycle begun with Shoujo Kakumei Utena closes with Mawaru Penguidrum, making it both one of the more exciting shows to have ever been given the green light in such a volatile media climate, and a challenging riposte to a decade of hiding beneath a shell of societal assumption. It’s wild, weird, beautiful, gaudy, painful, and imperfect look forward and backward, seeking diverse answers from difficult questions. It’s both an introspective masterpiece for modern Japanese media, and a spectacular yet inelegant kick in the teeth to the addicted, and we are all the healthier for it.
With the recent release of Edgar Wright’s live-action adaptation of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, it looks like an old disconnect has come back in some respects to haunt fandom once again. Whether or not this was a factor in the film’s lackluster performance at the box office, it is clear that beyond the film’s niche leanings, there is also the phenomenon of not having the most “heroic” of central characters. Scott is jobless, stays in an enclosed studio apartment, and shares a bed with his too-cool roomie, Wallace(who owns practically everything in said apartment) , and clearly has no plans in the long term. In fact, aside from video games, having an underaged girlfriend, and playing bass in his little garage outfit Sex Bob-Omb, there’s really little to our hero that makes him such. And this is what we are essentially stuck with as love at first sight hits the mind cycles like an N2 mine. And yet this is all by design, to the detriment of many. The tendency to take a central character, and to shape them into something less than a clearly sympathetic lead is often a risky proposal in any medium, but when executed with style and balance, something can indeed be savored. And how does this apply to the worlds of anime and manga? Well, it can almost easily be said that the origins of many such stories can be traced here with equal ease.
Looking over the decades, and seeing through the often parodied cliche of the ever-unflappable hero with a desire to be “the best”, it can also be said that a saturation of such types has its very own shadow counterpart, the loser hero. Not merely comfortable with the moniker, anti-hero, these types, while having goals of their own, are often far too shortsighted, too easily distracted, or focused elsewhere to ever truly be considered heroes in any common sense of the term. They don’t take on enemy after enemy in a protracted battle royale for ultimate glory, nor do they completely embrace the power of change toward a brighter future. In fact, very often, they aren’t very heroic at all.
So why is it that they continue to have large followings despite the glares & sneers of disapproval of so many? Well the answers can be both traced to both contemporary society’s own reception of the so-called “least of us”, as well as a deep seated need for recognition of the simpler, quieter defining moments in the lives of certain individuals. It’s a quasi-response toward feelings of alienation, and disaffectedness akin to those of a young Holden Caufield, uninvolved, unimpressed, and aching to be heard regardless of the direction of the winds. Taking the time machine back to the early days of Gekiga manga, where the pratfalls of ordinary folk, with their own internal strife often enveloping their fates with the power of a black hole. Daily life, inner city dregs, and the smoky skies of industrialized society rule intersecting lives without heroes, but many interesting lives with which to explore. Whether Tatsumi knew what kind of mutations would come from his then fresh battle cry against the ever numbing assault of super robots, detectives, and action heroes or not, the influence upon later works can be seen in many well-known central characters.
Can one imagine Go Nagai’s iconic Akira Fudoh without the influence? Heck, in Japan, even Spiderman had his share of problems.(as beautifully captured here in Jason Thompson’s amazing new post.You thought Peter Parker had it bad.) A land recovering from such dramatic changes over recent decades naturally needed an outlet for them that didn’t exclusively float away into mere flights of whimsy & easy answers. Something truly had to give in regards to those less regarded, the reluctant, the daily warriors aching to see it through for another day. Which is why when Gundam first landed in Japanese homes, the very nature of Amuro Ray was something unprecedented, even for a Yamato-era series. A hero nowhere near as interested in the fate of those around him, but of those closest. There was a scrappy, everyboy feeling to the proceedings that helped pave the era of realistic mecha anime, naturally leading to the ultimate expression of this disaffected archetype, Shinji Ikari.
And for years, it came to be long debated right at the gate. Many viewers to this date cannot watch Shin Seiki Evangelion merely because the lead character is so caustic, and incapable of reaching beyond himself. And yet it spoke to so many in an unprecedented manner, exposing a spirit not only reflective of post-bubble Japan, but of a general societal malaise. To see the sheer number of international fans (US fans included) recept to the characters of this series in such a manner, even as it takes a page from Tatsumi’s book of urban isolation is telling. Many wished to not merely see the boy pilot’s evolution from troubled introspective, and into a more classic hero, only to be denied by design in an even more unprecedented move by the show’s director. But the aim remains the same, to begin a character’s arc at the lowest point is a classical method in genre fiction. But in Evangelion’s case, it is less an arc than a case study. That one of a kind look into the mind of one incapable of seeing the world in a pluralistic sense, and more longing of some unseen, ordered universe, which jibed well with many fearing the coming millennium, and a potential cerebral meltdown ala Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
And yet it is a stunt that can only work so many times, which is why the loser hero is often more suited to be a comedic lead where the stakes are lower, and the fan service can be high! When the loser hero gained traction in the late 70s, it only took one mangaka’s central pervert to pave the way for an entire generation of lucky zeroes. Ataru Moroboshi, the insatiable, aimless lowlife son of the average Japanese family became the prototypical harem lead with Urusei Yatsura. And what makes this particular character so unique in this pantheon of service is that his unrepentant nature is rarely to never deterred. Even with the ultimate prototypical alien girlfriend, it isn’t enough. And even as the whole town had had their lick at beating this boy to a bloody pulp, it never seems to be enough. It is practically a metaphor for sexualized Japan’s own inability to grow past it’s own middle school period. And yet, the fans clamored for more as Takahashi continued to refine the loser hero with Yusaku Godai from Maison Ikkoku.
Almost setting up what will likely be the final mold for the harem lead, struggling student, Godai while not dealing with a vending machine selection of potential mates, has direction issues that continue to deter him from being a typical seinen hero. Whether it be school, or his landlord, Kyoko Otonashi, Godai’s choices are often more base, and not as concerned with the greater struggles of a would-be college student. The manga & anime’s leanings coalesce into realms unexpected, and side less with what most would expect regarding the initial setup. A bittersweet set of choices makes Ikkoku into something truly brave in the gardens of anime love geometrics, and has yet to be executed with as much sensitivity or irony.
The Takahashi Loser Hero Evolution Scale:
Which leads us to where it can all go wrong. When the loser becomes so unyielding, so childish, so incapable of sympathy that it can only end in bloody histrionics. That’s right. There’s just no other way for these folks to end their journeys but in the requisite bloodletting and screams one saves for a slasher free-for-all. Now without getting into titles, we are talking about the loser heroes who usually and up becoming yandere bait, and sometimes even targets due to their indecisive, unconscionable actions. Now where this comes from internally, I won’t get into here. But I will say that it is a pretty desperate place, and will likely take a strange place in the echelons of otaku museums for future investigation. Maybe then we can all look back, and ask exactly what it was we were drinking back then.
And so the often kneejerk reaction toward protagonists that happen to be less than ideal comes off as not only a little strange (after all, where would Golgo 13, Taxi Driver, or Fight Club, or even Charlie Brown(!!) be without this complex viewpoint?). To not see the connection between our own fallible selves and the at times borderline massive battles of the mundane seems a little shortsighted, and more than a little unfair. To each their own of course. And of course, there has been a recent tendency to allow characters to start from this point, only to wallow in it without an ounce of likeability, nor hint of reprieve from their childish natures,which is also telling of artists & readers. But to see a non-hero from the perspective of those around them can be a rewarding experience (as best expressed in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic version of Scott Pilgrim and well implied in the film. To see this expressed stateside is something of an interesting reflection on classic Japanese tropes of these sorts, making it a fascinating counterpoint.). When writers are fully in control of where a protagonist begins, it is vital to consider the placement of it, and in the case of the film in question which owes a great deal to Japanese video games, as well as anime, has a great amount of kinship with many elements of the more comedic loser hero with a tinge of the urban disconnect prevalent in so many classic characters.
Your mileage? Can’t say, but it is a most welcome swipe at the already tired comic book movie format. Now if only other live action anime adaptations would be so lucky.
And so two years fly by, delivering Evangelion 2.0 to the polarized masses. Is it the final nail in an enduring cultural milestone’s coffin? Could these new films in fact be anime’s equivalent of the Star Wars prequels? Or perhaps even the heralding of a more complete version of a legendary “incomplete” series? Well it depends on what you as a viewer want out of EVA. In most respects it is very much a Summer Blockbuster version of Anno‘s classic, with leans more toward the elastic weirdness of Tsurumaki‘s stylings. This might be the foremost clue for those keeping score with GAINAX over the last several years. And if one is familiar, then it may be more apparent of what type of sequel this is. Continuing off of the previous film which was a streamlined, “pumped” version of the tv series’ first six episodes, 2.0 dares to dash away expectations and offer eye-bursting spectacle instead of pointed human drama. Part Gurren Lagaan/Diebuster, part Michael Bay headache-fest, and part Anno music video, the film is akin to a regrettable trip to the candy store. (To partially quote Dr. Evil – “An Evil Candy Store?” Err..yeah.) One may get the feeling of satisfaction, but is left with merely a promise and a nagging toothache.
Take one gangly kid, one cooldere, and a bunch of heroic rebels who just want to live free. Put them in a dystopian future where an almost-magical element, trapar, generates lift forces and enables them to defy gravity. Mix in mecha, a threat to the world, and an uneasy peace. Serves seven: Eureka Seven.
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.
To steal a line from Spike Spiegel, there are three things I hate: crying kids, incompetence, and strange, unidentifiable fluids. So tell me, why has Alien Nine gathered them all in one place?
The show begins well. The character designs are cute. The utter mismatch between the main character and the job she is selected for is comical. It’s also nice to see a refreshing change from the usual paradigm of “magical girl revels in it;” the reasons behind Yuri’s ambivalence are very clear and plausible. She’s a middle school student and simply not cut out for any sort of conflict, even when equipped with a deus ex machina.
Sept 26, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. Earlier today, the local police arrested Minami Takayama, a 35-year old unmarried women who’s been drawing yaoi vampire doujinshi for 15 years.
The police chief reported that the local branch of the “Shin Mobile Morality Squad” has been secretly tracking this woman’s underground sales of her work to girls and women ranging from 14 to 45; from middle school girls to middle-aged housewives.
“She has been secretly selling indecent materials of sexual activities depicting men on men, men on boys, boys on boys, men to boys, and boys to men,” said Chief Watanabe. “Her work would’ve been acceptable if she were selling them in certain conventions in Tokyo, but she insisted on breaking the rules and the social stigma and selling outside these conventions.
“We think her abnormal behavior has something to do with her 2-year study abroad in America.” Chief Watanabe added.
“Freedom of speech is good, but too much of it can be really bad.” Commented Ms. Yoshida, a local housewife. “Thank my ancestors I refused to deal with her when she came to my house asking me to buy a copy of a ‘new and innovative read’ for housewives. I just said no.
“And I would like to encourage all bored housewives to watch drama, date younger men online, and play with boys from your local middle and high schools. Trust me, it makes the life more interesting that way.”
Police found 10000+ copies of yaoi doujinshi work from at Takayama’s home. It’s reported that her room is full of posters showing male characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hellsing, Fullmetal Alchemist, Kujibiki Unbalance, Prince of Tennis, and others.
She faces 5 years in prison with a stiff 450000 yen fine.