June 23, 2012

Xard on the Arbitrariness of the Age of Consent & Coming to Terms with 2-D Complexity

Original Post: Springtime for Jet Black: Cowboy Bebop 21 “Boogie Woogie Feng Shui”

Xard says:

June 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I should’ve responded to this ages ago but first of all I’d like to make a comment about translation of Faye’s comment in the subs. “Righteous” works well enough and it certainly fits Jet but the actual word used fits IMO both what Faye said Jet’s person even better.

The word used is 真面目/majime, adjective that is/can be translated as the following:

diligent; serious; honest; sober; grave; earnest; steady

A word that describes Jet and his attitude perhaps more perfectly than any other. Japanese society generally views 真面目 as very positive quality (a guy who is “majime”/serious about studying and his job as a part of workforce later in life is a proper no-nonsense member of society!) and thus it is not completely *unfitting* to translate it as righteous. But righteous and 真面目 are not the same thing. After all you can be righteous even if you’re whimsical and carefree person.

Thus in my opinion the subs unfortunately don’t render *exactly* correct understanding of what Faye says. I would’ve put it as “The more serious a man is in his youth, the more likely he’s gonna fall for a young girl later in life…”

This makes much more sense and rings more true to me. After all it isn’t a rare phenomenom for a person who has been very, uhh, straightfaced and serious end up doing impulsive, reckless things due to midlife crisis and the like. Buy a motor bike… or find a young woman

Righteous, on the other hand, is a moral term by definition and such connection isn’t as obvious at least in my eyes:

1. Morally upright; without guilt or sin
2. In accordance with virtue or morality
3. Morally justifiable

With that out of way, “actual” reply to contents of the post…

I’m not going to discuss these things. Instead I’m going to take on Faye’s statements without her in the picture, as it is, in my opinion, at the heart of many anime fans. Being sexually attracted to the anime characters they watch, and what it says about their flesh-and-blood sexual inclination and preferences.

For every person who dismisses “they’re just ‘toons,” I come across some fan who behaves as if the anime character he likes is better than any human being, living or dead. For the purposes of this discussion I will stand on that at least some of the time, for many of the viewers, they admire or are attracted sexually, to anime characters as if they were people they can perform sexual acts with.

Well, Cratex’s response already was to a point. There’s nothing particularly strange about it, not anymore so that we’re able to look at animated car chase and treat it as if it were real car chase. Fiction altogether wouldn’t work if we couldn’t approach these fictional constructs (whether characters or not) as if they were real on some level. Feeling antipathy or empathy to a character as if it were a person wouldn’t be possible if in human nature there wasn’t a capability to conceptualize and imagine text or image as something more than they are. If one can feel the whole range of all other emotions for a fictional character there shouldn’t be anything surprising about sexual attraction also being possible. With anime we’re even talking about images in human form which isn’t even a “radical” case. When a reader is aroused by character in erotic fiction is he getting a hard on for a ink blots on paper which is all the character “really” is? Of course not because normally people don’t feel sexual attraction to to such inanimate objects!

As far as I know people getting crushes on novel characters is as old phenomenom as literature itself. I’m also reminded of recently translated Yoko Kanno interview (http://gabrielarobin.com/5045/interview-with-yuki-kodama-and-shinichiro-watanabe) where she related that her “first love” was actually Jesus Christ as a small girl because she found image of him attractive.

Moving a few steps forward from plain words or paintings with no hint of sexuality in them we get to anime and manga where characters generally speaking are usually designed to be attractive with features either mimicking what get people going with real life humans (“perfect” body types and alike). Even features that first strike one as more alien like huge eyes usually exist as kind of idealization of things we do find nice in real humans too: like big eyes being nice (of course anime proportions on real humans look creepy because they try bring abstract idealizations into far too physical form).

In short there’s nothing per se strange about it (and it isn’t only related to anime or modern era: it also goes without saying that history of drawn pornography goes eons back in time) and whenever I see someone wondering aloud about it I see someone who has only thought about it very superficially or is a hypocrite.

Genshiken put it very well:

The older, more mature the viewer is, the more problematic/guilt-inviting the experience is, precisely because anime characters are almost always juvenile, and younger than the age of consent in Japan itself (18 years old – although the age of sexual consent in Japan is 13 years of age, prefecture law usually overrides federal law, raising the age up to 18), and often younger than the worldwide average age of consent (16 years old).

this on the other hand is much more understandable issue to me. Well, since I’m 14 years your junior the high school era wasn’t that long ago for me but even then I’ve had times I was troubled by this in the past.

It was a part of more general (and profoundly silly in retrospect) moral struggle I was going through when I became legal adult: turns out turning 18 didn’t turn away male gaze from sexually attractive females even if they were my junior. Particularly troubling were cases under finnish age of consent (16) – let me tell you you’d never guess ages of some of these girls correctly. Even if I had no intentions to ever do anything about it the existence of the attraction in itself caused me a lot of guilt. Another angle into problem came through my fairly constant exposure to japanese media. As you may know asians generally look much younger than their actual ages are to western eye and seeing japanese girls who in some respects looked very… childish yet were still gorgeous and not even rarely of legal age was another thing that hounded me.

What finally gave me a release from this was admitting some and realizing some basic facts of life: the fundamentally trivial nature of all “age” laws, the difference between arbitrary law and moral code and most importantly inevitable disregard of arbitrary numerical values as far as human biology goes.

With meaninglessness of age of consent (or when one can acquire driving license) laws I’m not saying they don’t have a purpose and that they should be abolished: I’m saying they don’t have a binding moral character and that they exist for pragmatical reasons. After all, age of consent laws tend to vary from 12 to 18 year old across the globe. How could it be *morally* – not legally – wrong to have sex with 17 year old in one country but not so in its neighbour? Why exactly is it so that when I turn 18 I have the maturity and abilities to learn to drive to car when a mere day ago when I was still 17 I didn’t? How can a change from 11.59 to 00.00 in clock fundamentally change my capabilities so much? Heck, in USA I could get the license at 16. Are the yankees so much mentally ahead of us or what? And of course since age of consents are relatively new phenomenom, differ from country to country and are conceptual in nature they have no connection to biological, eternal basis of sexual attraction which doesn’t give a damn about such conceits of human thought. There’s a reason why physical attraction to adolescents is considered normal in psychology while actual pedophilia is classified as mental illness (it doesn’t help that many people can’t separate the two with magazines screaming about some guy “molesting child” when a girl in question was 15 year old and mere 100 years ago it would’ve been completely normal and acceptable relationship)

Realizing all of this together with moral accountability being related to *free actions* and volitions that lifted the unnecessary burden from my shoulders. Age of consent laws play a vital role in protecting vulnerable youth from use by scummy adults and even if there were some 15 year olds more than mature enough to learn drive a car it’s safer for all to wait a bit longer because not everyone shares their level. Such sacrifices can’t be helped. Biological attraction in itself isn’t a conscious action in my part which are what I’m responsible for. Thus as I have no interest in relationship with a teenager I don’t need to feel like I’ve commited a grave sin even if I happen to pass by a junior I consider attractive during a walk.

As for anime characters there’s no issue to begin with as they’re all fantasy characters and often the links between the character ages and their personality and behaviour are more than a bit strenuous. There are 14 year olds in anime who are far more mature and lovable persons than some of the “real” adults of my age who I count as friends and associates. Numerical age in a world where college aged guys are world knowing sages and middle schoolers brave heroes more than capable of carrying the world on their shoulder is quite irrelevant feature to judging them. For example character like Utena is what, 13? If there truly was a girl of that calibre in real world and I had a shot at her I don’t think I’d give a damn about age (not that I’m actually particularly attracted to Utena in that way but she’s perfect example for making the point). Thankfully real teenagers aren’t like that so I have no fears about finding myself in illicit relationship with minor, ever :D

and, well, even if I’m no longer attracted to Asuka and see her as too much of a broken, poor teenager as I’ve matured from that comparable adolescent phase of mine she still *looks* as hot as back then. Being 21 or 14 doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to that so I’d feel very hypocritical if I started to rant and rave against my peers who may consider her waifu material or anything like that :D

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June 18, 2012

Adam Wednesdays on The Rejection of Guilt and Lelouch

Original Post: Acknowledging Our Guilt for Our Choice of Heroes: Code Geass’ Lelouch Lamperouge

 

Adam Wednesdays says:

June 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I realize I’m coming late to the party, seeing as this article is about two years old now, but I’ve just recently discovered your site.

It’s funny, I really didn’t like “Code Geass.” But it’s not the type of show that I didn’t like, put aside, and then forget about. It’s a show that stayed in my thoughts more than I’d like to admit, often because it made me so angry. My dislike had nothing to do with the main characters or the idea behind the show; I found those fascinating. But I just found the telling of the story and much of the plotting to be unbearable and a gigantic let-down, more so because I wanted it to live up to the premise. I’m not usually the type who gets very heated or intense about a show I dislike. Even if I’m annoyed or angry with something I watch, I get it out of me quickly and then move on with my life. Code Geass, however? That show pissed me off. As in, on-the-verge-of-throwing-the-remote-at-the-TV pissed off.

And yet… I still like to read about it. And talk about it. And this type of article, that avoids the judgements or examinations of the show’s quality and instead talks about the ideas and the characters and how we engage with them, is the type that’s worth discussing. The “this show RAWKS” vs “this show SUX” arguments are usually pointless: one person says it’s good, on person disagrees; words get heated, caps-lock keys are pounded, and by the end no one has changed anyone’s mind and there’s been no actual discussion, just shouting in the general direction of another person. There’s no accounting for taste, your own or anyone else’s. As you say, “subjectivity, taste, and all that.” Much more worthwhile to discuss what the show’s about, I’d say.

And on that note, I apologize for making one of my first comments on your blog such a rambling doozy:

About this passage from your article:

What about the people who ‘don’t get’ these characters, and yet wildly support them? I imagine these people have a very limited view of these. Limited perhaps by self-delusions including but not limited to personal hopes pinned on the inherent goodness of humans. In political rallies, these are the people who are quick to call critics of their candidate libelous liars, and slanderers. They shout these things with tears in their eyes… righteous rage, and pity for their besieged hero.

While I think that sometimes this is the case, especially when it comes to fictional characters, there can be another side to it as well. Especially when it comes to shows with political elements like “Code Geass,” for some their refusal to acknowledge the “anti” in the anti-hero has less to do with the hope being placed in the inherent goodness of people, as it is in the faith in the inherent goodness of their own beliefs. For those types of people, the whitewashing comes from the fact that their like and support of the character begins and ends with the character’s cause, and the accompanying antipathy for the people who stand against that character comes from those characters being on the wrong side. There’s a very simplistic but attractive mindset that a lot of people fall into, where the cause a person advocates is the best way to judge their worth and morality. The cause is just, ergo the people who fight for it are good people; and on the flip side, if a cause in unjust, then the people who believe in it are unjust, and therefore are evil people. Personal behavior is subsumed by the grand narrative of Good vs Evil. If you’re on the right side, you cannot do bad because you are fighting for the right. If you’re on the wrong side, then you can never be good because your cause is evil.

Of course, the world is a bit more complicated than that. A person’s political beliefs are often completely unrelated to how moral a person they are, and being on the right side of history does not make every action you take excusable. And yet when it comes to judging the actions of public figures and characters alike, some people often forget that. The indignation you see over attacks made on people advocating for their beliefs, and therefore represent their beliefs in the public space, starts with their beliefs and works its way down to the person.
Lelouch is bound to attract this type of following, because his opponent, in the form of the Empire and his father both, is so obviously evil and wrong. It’s easy to see why a racist, war-like, and incredibly oppressive regime like the Britannian Empire should be opposed. Even if you sympathize with the reformist mindset of Suzaku and Euphemia that hopes that the existing infrastructure can be reformed and used to make everyone equal, it’s not hard to see them as being dangerously naive. The show is made for an audience living in modern day democracies; words like “empire,” “colonization,” and “racial superiority” are pretty much automatically going to raise the hackles of the people watching it so much that we automatically feel the Empire to be an entity so rotten and wrongheaded that it is irredeemable. Most people know automatically that empires aren’t in the business of extending the benefits enjoyed by those living in the homeland to the lands they conquer, but to extract resources and gain influence; anything else that comes with it is a side-effect. It’s why Kippling’s “White Man’s Burden” or Rhode’s belief in a Colonialism that would lead to all the lands held by the British Crown being elevated to equal stature with the homeland seem so naive today; we all know that equality for the conquered and colonized was never on the agenda. In fact, it was counter to the Empire’s purpose colonizing those places to begin with. If greater rights and privileges ever do manage to be gained, they are gained only through long, arduous, and often painful steps that are nowhere near as emotionally satisfying to root for as taking up arms for the romantic fight against the grand evil. And so from a political standpoint, Lelouch is automatically ahead. And for some people, the matter is closed right then and there. The Empire is evil, the sooner it comes down the better, and anyone who stands in the way of that is on the side of injustice. And who wants to support the injust?

But there’s another level to morality, the personal one. Does someone behave honorably and kindly to the people around them? Do they lie, cheat, and steal? Do they show empathy for others? Do they honor the trust given to them by the people around them, or do they abuse it? When looked at as a human being, it becomes much harder to argue that Lelouch is a better person than Suzaku or Euphemia. Hell, he’s not even a better person than Cornelia or Jeremiah.

Lelouch is, to put it bluntly, a cold-hearted bastard. And it goes beyond just his tactics, which include terrorism that leads to civilian death, betrayal of allies, murder, and casual manipulation of all the people who care about him and follow him. It’s also obvious that Lelouch enjoys being a bastard. Recall that devilish grin on his face when he first uses his Geass power and orders an entire unit of Britannian soldiers to commit mass suicide; that’s the smile of a man who realizes he literally has the power to command people to unquestioningly end their own lives, and absolutely loves the idea. And this isn’t the only scene where he’s like that. He egotistically gloats and laughs maniacally when his betrayals and schemes come together, even as people, even his allies, are suffering, tricked, or dying because of them.

It’s even apparent in the scene when he kills Clovis. While most people will hardly ever say that murder is a good thing, most of the audience is perfectly willing to enjoy seeing Clovis be killed by the time it happens. Not because we want to justify murder, but because we want to see evil people be punished. Evil people meeting evil ends makes the world seem right; we want to believe that they’ll reap what they sow. Clovis, who had just ordered the massacre of civilians before his death, is obviously a wretched human being (his character only exists to be a wretched human being for Lelouch to dispatch, after all). There really isn’t any punishment other than death that would seem like any type of justice for him. Even those who find murder abhorrent are hardly going to shed a tear for him if someone puts him down, and so we are more accepting of what we know is going to happen to him because his murder is a lesser evil done to avenge his much more numerous and heinous crimes, and stop other atrocities that he was likely to commit throughout his life. But… look at Lelouch’s face when he confronts his brother. The situation becomes much less morally acceptable when you see the protagonist’s expression and realize that Lelouch is enjoying the scenario far too much to simply be concerned with justice being done. He’s obviously taking sadistic pleasure in the thought of terrorizing and killing a man; and not just any man, but his brother.

And that is another one of the ways that Lelouch is morally compromised on a personal level: it’s all about personal gratification. His cause isn’t really the liberation of the Japanese and the defeat of an unjust empire, it’s getting personal revenge on his family. The liberation movement was just the most convenient way to achieve these goals. He’s a man with no real convictions outside of his own personal wants. He may sometimes justify his actions by tying them to a political struggle, or by saying it’s about making a better world for Nunally, but that often just seems to be the excuses he uses to make himself seem righteous. Even in the case of Nunally, it’s not really about what she wants so much as what he has decided she should want him to give her; he almost certainly never asked her or considered whether or not she would want the things he does committed in her name.

And so we get back to the question: WHY do we root for Lelouch, who when examined as a person hardly seems worthy of our support. To get back to your statement about those who DO “get” anti-heroes:

I suggested earlier that some of us who went this far with Lelouch may have an appreciation for evil. Maybe some of us do, but I find this less interesting compared to those of us who tell ourselves that we don’t, and suffer guilt for indulging ourselves in it.

With a narrative like “Code Geass,” it’s very easy for people who don’t usually fall into the simplistic mindset I talked about above to start to indulge in it. It’s just fiction, after all, and one of the benefits of fiction is that it gives us much cleaner and clearer narratives than the messiness of real life and realpolitik. We may want to see evil punished, but we know that in the real world if we take that responsibility on ourselves we may end up doing evil things. Most of us want to be good people, and many of those who are willing to accept that sometimes you must morally compromise yourself if you want to achieve justice don’t want to personally face the consequences that doing so would bring, whether it be the law, the disappointment of peers and loved ones, or the hurt that our actions may cause to the people who don’t deserve it.

Anti-heroes give us a vicarious thrill. They are the type of people who have it in them to do the dirty deeds that demand doing, in spite of it all. Yes, they may violate some laws and some ethics, but if their actions punish greater injustices then it’s all for the better. Part of us knows it’s wrong, but part of us thrills at watching it unfold. We the viewer may not support murder or terrorism, but we certainly won’t be sorry for a mad dog like Clovis. Whatever happens to him is surely deserved, he brought it on himself. And the Empire has committed so many crimes, we can hardly be expected to hate someone who actually seems like he could bring it down.

But a character like Lelouch compromises all that. He’s so driven by his own petty desire for revenge and the closure he thinks it will bring him, it becomes harder to just sit back and vicariously enjoy justice being done through him. Because a lot of his actions aren’t justice, but vengeance. And that’s much less glamourous, especially over fifty or so episodes.

And so we get back to guilt. Not just our own over still wanting to Lelouch to win (because given his enemy, who doesn’t want the Empire to lose?), but the guilt of the protagonist as well. His hands are very bloody by the end, too bloody for it to simply be written off as necessary evil with a shrug and a wink. And we gain some solace in our guilt from knowing that he suffers from his own. If we don’t want to see him punished for it, we at least want him to attempt to atone. Orchestrating his own death is a concise way to absolve himself, and us, at least a little. It says he at least had the self-awareness by the end to give up seeing the benefits of all his work in an attempt for absolution. That’s why the theory that he has faked his own death seem so wrongheaded and distasteful to me. It would mean that after everything, he’d learned nothing and felt no remorse, and was even to the end doing everything for himself. That much guilt, I can do without.

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January 6, 2012

A.r. On The Fractured Gundam Fandoms

Original Post: WHY WE CAN HAVE NICE THINGS Or, How The Gundam Fandom Can Find Their Own Personal Newtype

 

A.r. says:

January 5, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I’ve long figured there is no one Gundam fandom, just separate fandoms that vary greatly in diversity and dynamic. Separate fandoms that, for the most part, avoid each other like the plague and amongst the UC fandom especially consider the other ones “disgraces” and what not. Granted there is some cross pollination, especially in recent years, but this attitude is still alive and well in UC especially.

I wonder if some of it can be traced to the Toonami days when the Wing fandom was alive and ruling the scene. It was the Hetalia fandom of its day, being both one of the biggest anime fandoms on the scene and one the the biggest gatherings and sources of fangirl insanity. I can see why the UC fans of the day wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from it and probably were resentful of still being associated with it by the word “Gundam”. Unfortunately they’ve still clung to these attitudes of elitism and wariness of anyone with differing opinions even though the Wing fandom is long gone save for a few desperate souls.

I’m in a strange position since I’m a female fan who got in through 08th MS Team at the age of 12. After ten years I’ve seen more elitism and backhanded shaming directed at me than I can shake a stick at. Even though I’ve always been into UC and especially in the beginning had a very vocal dislike of Wing, I still feel like the fandom gurus just kind of (barely) tolerated me but didn’t ever think of me as a “real” fan, at least not one who deserves to be on their level. True, I’ve said and done plenty of dumb shit, but so do most awkward teenagers. I don’t know if some silly, fangirly post I made when I was 14 can be held to the same accountability as something written by a 20-something year-old.

My silliness aside, it seems like a good chunk of the crap isn’t because I’m legitimately acting stupid, but because my tastes in characters have always been at odds with the fandom majority. Gundam fandom elitism doesn’t just come in the form of series elitism, but character choices as well IMHO. Well-liked characters are perfectly okay to heap with praise and even whitewash (see Char Aznable), but heaven forbid someone try to give say, Quess Paraya the time of day other than to bash her into the ground (I’ve gotten people telling me to kill myself for saying I liked her). My favorite of all is Ghinius Sakhalin, and it seems like if you try to argue him as anything other than a 1-dimensional monster, you’re a dumb fangirl over-analyzing things. Of course it’s okay to have 10-page threads over-analyzing mech specifics or a popular character like Ranba Ral or Anavel Gato, but Ghinius apparently isn’t allowed anywhere near the same consideration. No one important likes him, and clearly the fandom majority is what’s right and anyone who says differently is automatically full of shit and not worth listening to.

I don’t ask people agree with my views, I just wish I wasn’t treated like some silly fantard whose views have no basis in canon and are thus unworthy. But it seems like the only way I’ll get that respect from people is if I denounce my opinions and change my feelings about my favorite characters, force myself to like characters I don’t (Char Aznable and Shiro Amada come to mind), and parrot every opinion of the majority and be a good little hive mind. And even then, since I’m female, prefer characters to mechs, and like some slash and fanfiction I doubt I’d still be treated as a “real” UC fan (unless I denounce all those things as well). It seems like the only way to win is to give up every ounce of individuality I have, and I’d rather not do that.

Other fandoms seem to welcome differing views/analysis (parts of the Utena fandom come to mind) since it can make for some great, intelligent discussion. But if you try it in the UC fandom, you’re looked down upon and invalidated. As much as this fandom has become a part of my identity, I don’t know if it’s really worth it to do anything other than stay in my corner, post my writings/fanfiction/essays/rants/etc to my personal journals and be ignored by most of the other fans and generally feel lonely as hell. I mean I guess I can’t blame them for not liking characters like Ghinius or Quess since they’re very much acquired tastes, but it still gets lonely and frustrating knowing that if I try to take my views about them to major fan forums I risk getting met with people trying their hardest to belittle and invalidate me while still coming across as “intelligent” and “right”.

Holy giant rants Batman, the fuck I just type?

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December 25, 2011

Ack on Preferring SDFM Minmay

Original Post: Ranka Lee & Her Genealogy of Hate; Or, Happy Merry Christmas Without You

 

Ack (@we_rob_ot_down) says:

December 25, 2011 at 2:03 am (Edit)

I actually preferred the Minmay of the TV series because I found her narrative to be more compelling. She acts without any consideration for others and lets herself be totally manipulated which yeah is pretty deplorable, but at the end of the TV series the melancholy and depression that hits Minmay when she starts to realize what she has done and where her life is headed is absolutely delicious. It just perfectly captures that most miserable feeling of losing everything you care about and not even being able to be angry because you know that it is your own fault.

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December 24, 2011

Andrew Graruru on Mineva Zabi’s Conversation Over Coffee

Original Post: 12 Moments of Anime 2011: Coffee With a Runaway Princess (Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn)

andrewgraruru says:

December 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm

[…] At this point I’ve praised this scene on two podcasts and on your blog, and I still think its deserving of that praise. I like the way, through conversations like this, Unicorn is building a much fuller picture of UC’s political climate, going right back to the space settlement program. Spacenoids grievances have been expounded upon through Full Frontal attempting to excuse his mens actions, and from Marida we get a more civilian spacenoid view on why they agitate against the earth Government. The Diner conversation sticks out to me because not only is it the rare occurrence of an earthnoid who says more than a sentence (and that sentence isn’t “Ahhh! a colony is dropping on me!”), but also because it gives us an optimistic viewpoint of space-colonisation. All of this affects the conflict we see in 0096

None of this feels like dry exposition or monotone babbling. Instead it gives the impression of a lived-in universe, and puts all of UC’s conflicts into perspective. And also in this scene we Audrey develop more in four minutes than Banagher has in four episodes; she accepts her position and is ready to go forward. I wish all the characters in this show were as well written as she is.

With two more episodes left (and maybe a movie?) and three more books to cover, I doubt they’ll have time for many more scenes like this. But I expect the conclusion of this series and the opening of Laplaces box will feel all the more effective as the culmination of these quiet moments and political instabilities.

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November 23, 2011

Andrew Graruru on the Zeon of Gundam Unicorn

Original Post: The Despair of Zeon At The Bottom of The Gravity Well–Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 04

 

Andrew_Graruru says:

November 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

It’s hard to really root for Zeon in Gundam, and whatever Harutoshi Fukui’s political leanings may be, I don’t think that’s what Unicorn attempts to do. Despite how humanistic the Zeon characters are in this show (especially compared to the cold, inefficient Feddies) and the damming account of Feddie occupation, Zeons atrocity during war-time still casts a massive shadow over the episode, both in the colony-drop and by showing the Shamblo decimate that random Australian suburb.

As you point out, this more human portrayal serves simply to give a richer, more fully realised lore. It is clear in Unicorn that spacenoids are, to an extent, disenfranchised. They lack the right to vote, they were occupied and pillaged by the Federation (which recalls Mineva’s comment about Spacenoids being used to violence against them). I’ve even heard that in the novels it is explicitly mentioned that the spacenoids are classed as abandoned refugees by the Government, which is why they lack certain fundamental rights. This doesn’t justify the gassing, the colony-drop ect, but it does make it more believable that so many spacenoids would be attracted to such an extremist organisation as Zeon. I hear a lot of complaints about this series being “Zeon fanwank” or whatever, but I actually think it does a good job of making the ideologies of UC as a whole much more fleshed out and believable.

And any time it gets a little too “Hail Nippon!” or “those evil FEDDIE Amurrikans!”, Banagher is there to give Zeonic ideology a good hard kick in the balls.

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November 11, 2011

Dearline on the Distinctions of Sheryl Nome

Original Post: Sheryl Nome is The Most Awesome Woman in Anime—The Sixth of Six Posts on Macross Frontier The Wings of Goodbye

 

Dearline says:

November 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I think they made Movie Sheryl flawed in her tool against the Vajra and spy dilemma, dealing with real consequences and some bittersweet karma outcome. This is how they should have gone with TV series Ranka. None of that magic-godly whitewashing bullshit. Sheryl, Alto, SMS, all of they should have stuck with Ranka, but I would like her more aware of her actions too.

Movie Sheryl is an actual spy from Macross Galaxy, a place she seems to love enough to pay for its rescue with her credits in the film. She’s aware of her disease (whether if they infect her with it or she was already infected, it’s not explicitly said. Since it seems to ruin their plans, perhaps its the latter) and she signed up in her role as Fairy until they find Ranka. We don’t really know how much she knew about the Galaxy take over (probably nothing of this), but she seemed seeking Ranka out of the memory of her grandmother’s research and beliefs.

And she also feels a strong love and loyalty for Grace, similar to how Ranka feels towards Ozma (Aya Endo empathized this love she feels like a child to a mother).

However, she also knew that the Vajra would attack Frontier sooner or later (Brera apologized because they attacked sooner than they thought). Was she trying to stop this or to use the Vajra to draw Ranka out? We don’t know (like Universal Bunny, Sheryl’s very controversial in the movie). Probably the former. She also feels this crippling loneliness. Maybe because he alone isn’t implanted and, while she might care for Grace and Brera, they are controlled. It must have been terrible for her watch them all this time.

Even though she’s dying and the only hope to save her is harvesting the life of her rival in song and love (remove an obstacle), she feels nothing but relief when she’s arrested. She accepts all the charges, the false and the truthful ones. She wants to pay for them. I really like this. Then her high point is to show that, even if she had a turmoil earlier and she has only spent three or four months in Frontier, she betrays the only people who could save her to keep Ranka safe. Then she is willing to die for Ranka’s sake.

I really like her character progression and I would have like to watch more her thought processes. She is more like the Mad Scientist’s Beautiful Daughter type. We know she means well in her feelings and thoughts (Ranka and Alto felt them), but she’s caught in bad circumstances.

In regards of the triangle, it was less, IMO, who Alto loved. It was very obvious to me Alto was drawn romantically to Sheryl through the movies. The scenes with them are charged and contrasting. But he couldn’t trust her, he trusted Ranka, his best friend, but he didn’t love her. In the end, he was able to trust Sheryl and unable to change his feelings for Ranka.

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November 1, 2011

Chan on Sayonara no Tsubasa Answering a Great “What if”

Original post: The Second of Six Posts on Macross Frontier Sayonara no Tsubasa: A Tale of Two Movie Adaptations–Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann vs. Macross Frontier

 

Chan says:

November 1, 2011 at 2:25 am (Edit)

I really liked this movie for basically effectively pulling off the What if scenario that I’ve always seen brought up by Ranka fans in the forums, especially after the head script writer outright said that it was Sheryl who won in the tv series.(he had more power than Kawamori in the tv series–the novels also refer to her as the woman that Alto loves), and he only took it out because he felt that there were too much problems with Alto’s character to let him choose. This movie was basically answered for us, what if the roles were reversed, what if it was Sheryl who was the traitor, and Ranka was responsible, independent, more mature, more considerate, didn’t make her life revolve around a person she just met and barely knew, knew Alto longer, and spent more time with him; would Alto love Ranka then, would Sheryl make the same mistakes that Ranka did? This movie answered those questions with a resounding no.

Sheryl didn’t make the same choices as Ranka, she didn’t keep vital information to herself,

This is why this movie worked it was a role reversal what if scenarios and altered the characters accordingly so that they could make it work.

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October 31, 2011

Reid on Gundam AGE Episode 04

Original Post: The White Wolf is a Fun Guy–Mobile Suit Gundam AGE 04

Reid says:

October 31, 2011 at 1:52 am

Things I liked about Gundam Age episode 4:
Likes
1. Really should be LOVES LOVES LOVES, because it thrills me to no end to know that Woolf (Wulf?) is first and foremost a GP race driver and then a combat pilot. I’ve often wanted to see/read/hear about Mobile Suits’ uses outside of the usual combat-and-construction roles we so often (exclusively) get shown in most Gundam media. As a big-time motorsports enthusiast, I’d be keen to see somebody take this idea and run with it. Maybe a manga about junior mobile suit racing having to struggle during wartime (like how the real Grand Prix did during the years leading up to and following World War II).
2. The Genoace Custom is intensity in ten cities. I really like how, as Matt said, it seems to be a call-back to the original concept of Tomino’s Gundam: stark white. Besides, the model kits, being all white, will be easy to customize…bring on the Char colors!
3. Flit’s response to Woolf’s challenge. “THE GUNDAM IS NOT A TOY!” Kinda reminds me of a certain other famous Gundam pilot’s admonition of “THE NU GUNDAM IS NOT JUST FOR SHOW!”, while simultaneously (and ironically) hanging a lampshade on the fact that, well, actually, yes this Gundam is the most toy-like in many many a year.
4. I liked it how Woolf and Flit worked together to beat back the UE at the end of the episode. Though Flit looked like he was going to get the “win” by showing up with the DODS rifle, it was Woolf who recorded the “save” by using it to blow up the asteroid, covering our heroes’ escape back to the Diva. Then, in the mess, their back-and-forth banter difinitely makes me think that Woolf’s already gone from a too-cocky blowhard (stereotype) to a more nuanced representation of the more experienced pilot. Sure, he’ll rag on Flit for the rest of the series, but they’re buds now for sure. After all, Woolf did say, as he fled from the attacking Gafrans and had his Tallgee…GENOACE’s lower leg get shot off, “Maybe I overdid the cool-guy act.”

My favorite dude in this show is still Largan though. Red-heads deserve more respect (and airtime).

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October 22, 2011

SignOf Zeta on Macross Sequels

Original Post: Macross is a Story of Space Whales, or, Macross Is a Space Whale (Let’s Also Love Macross Dynamite 7)!

SignOfZeta says:

October 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm (Edit)

For people that hate Macross 7 (I was certainly one of them when it came out) this show is the answer to the question they were afraid to ask. How do you make a sequel to Macross?

The show is about a military conflict that was, like all wars, stupid. They fix is by establishing communications with the enemy. Once they realize they are all the same species, its easy to resolve the conflict.

How do you make a sequel to this? New aliens that will senselessly attack the Earth only to also be defeated by singing? Did we all (that is the viewer, and the fictional characters) learn nothing from this story!?

I really don’t think Dynamite is a side story, or a meaningly diversion at all. I think its the ultimate conclusion of the original Macross ideal. The people wanted peace, and they got it. They didn’t get it by building the biggest hyper mega launcher, they got it through cultural understanding. Basara understands this is and is FULLY committed to, and comfortable with, his pacifism. Instead of Amuro or Camile whining about killing people bothers them, Basara simply refuses to do it, and he’s obviously way more comfortable with that. He may be a big doofus, but at least he’s not constantly angst-ing all over the damned place like so many other mecha pilots. (His polar opposite might be Hero Yui, who is perfectly comfortable mowing down thousands of people with zero regret).

Also, space whales are totally rad, the near-rape scene was %100 un-appreciated by me, and the giant Zentran diver suit was really cool.

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October 21, 2011

squaresphere on Macross and Space Whales

Original Post: Macross is a Story of Space Whales, or, Macross Is a Space Whale (Let’s Also Love Macross Dynamite 7)!

squaresphere says:

October 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm (Edit)

The whole concept of the “in the belly of the whale” as a jumping off point for character narratives is pretty interesting. Breaking it down, it’s basically the , “I know I’m gonna die, but god help me, if i make it through it, things will be different.” It could also be seen as the characters are now isolated and whatever “petty” outside story lines that were messing with them are now gone finally allowing their introspection to change their character and be shown as growth.

Just thinking about MF there were a couple scenes like this. The obvious one are the ones featuring escape pods/shelters. There are interesting in that unlike most “in the belly” there a lot of other people in the same area but for all intents and purposes our heroes/heroines are alone with their thoughts or the scene shares them with a select few. My favorite one is when Sheryl decides to finally sing her song for those in despair.

But the two others that jumped out at me that I hadn’t notice before actually feature Alto. The first one being when he goes all GAR and actually “enters the belly of the beast” to save Luca. This was when we see Alto’s first change as a professional solider albeit still a bit headstrong. He comes out of it with a bit more confidence in his newly chosen profession. Later, the next Belly scene is Michel’s death. All the little side stories fall to the way side when he and Michel talk about love while blasting the corridors of death. When he dies, everything drops away leaving only Klan and Alto screaming at the darkness. This right here is where we see Alto make up his mind to defend the colony no matter what and by extension want to put “roots” down.

But back to M7 and space whales, Angel Voice is a great song but my favorite version of it is the Basara+Minmay duet version along with the extend karaoke guitar solo that positively SINGS TO MY SOUL. And that’s how I saw Basara play it. He was singing to his soul making the mountains move with his voice. I suppose it could be said that the Space Whale is really just a “dark moment” narrative that either gives an opportunity for the despair to consume them or for them to spark a light in the soul that fights the darkness and lets them shine.

Lucky for us Marcoss is a mix of both. At the best of times, lets us see our heroes hit the lowest of lows but come shining back with the force of a thousand Itano circuses and Macross class speaker pods set to 11.

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October 21, 2011

Matt Wells on VOTOMS creator Takahashi’s Talk in Scotland

Original Post: Code Geass vs. VOTOMS: The Mecha Roller Derby of Destruction!

  1. Matt Wells says:

    October 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm (Edit)

    Back from Edinburgh, and I had fun. Before they screened the Pailsen Files, movie, Takahashi himself came up on stage to give us an introduction. Also with him was a Sunrise producer who’s name sadly escapes me, though he mentioned working with Takahashi on both the OVA release and movie cut of PF. Takahashi was very nice in person, a bit like that kindly old pensioner everyone has on their street. He made a point of mentioning that he often recieves invitations to foreign screenings, but due to small audiences he usually turns them down. He showed up for THIS one however because he loves golf, and he couldn’t resist the oppertunity to play the green on Saint Andrews!

    Interviewer and giant of the Anime translation business Jonathan Clements joked that he tried to get into the spirit of things by wearing his Scottish University tie. He was therefore a bit put out when it turned out every single item Takahashi wore was made of Scottish Tartan or wool… purchased in Tokyo. He then gave a brief potted summary of VOTOMS: real robots, story of a war weary soldier becoming human again etc. By the sound of the audience I was one of only five people who had even seen VOTOMS before this screening, the others were mostly Japanese students and Sottish weeaboos who came ’cause it was anime. Takahashi drily apologised that we might not like his film due to the complete absence of cute schoolgirls, at which the older proportion of the audience actually cheered. He finished off by showing us his backswing and yelling “FOUR!”. We were informed that we were the first to be shown the film in Europe, and the second outside of Japan (apparently Takahashi showed it in Singapore).

    The film itself was a basic compilation movie. No new animation as far as I could tell except for an AWESOME pre-credits sequence with Pailsen reviewing his Red Shoulder battalion before the Melkian military police come to arrest him. You can see it on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny0Z0timcAQ&feature=related They condensed most of the story from the 12 episode series into a scant two hours, hough they left behind a lot of basic character development and a few action sequences. All the stuff with the battle of wits between Pailsen and Wockam was retained, though as I’ve yet to see any of the prequel OVAs of the TV series, a lot of continuity references went over my head. There was some cool stuff with Wiseman in the last half hour that completely went over the heads of the casual audience, but they also confirmed a few details of Chirico’s backstory and showed that one of the main character’s was a prototype for the Perfect Soldier program. A few unexplained plot holes but it still gave the franchise some more depth.

    The movie was good but stick with the full series for the best experience. The subtitles we had were customed made for our screening, and thus were a little stiff in places. Stuff like “Oh No! Seems we I have accidentaly snapped neck his!” had the audeince on the floor laughing. After that there was a short break where the theater showed us the video trailers for the three most recent VOTOMS OVAs: Finder, Case: Irvine and Alone Again, the latter of which was the only one Takahashi had a hand in. An unexpected treat, though they didn’t mention anything about Phantom Arc. We had a very brief Q and A after that where he talked a bit about the background to VOTOMS. He said Sunrise put him in charge of the project after the enormous success of Dougram, giving the public the original, non-manga based robot shows they were clamouring for. He says their designs were very consciously different to Gundam and Dougram; scaled them back from 18 metres to 4, and emphasised their mobility and speed to make the action scenes more dynamic.

    Making them smaller made it easier to integrate battles into the foreground, and the enhanced manuverability made the action sequences much more varied. Not like Mobile Suit battles with robots standing in place and taking pot shots at each other. The rollerskate treads were part of this, not just there to reduce the cost of animating them walking as Clements asked, though that certainly helped. He repeated the old story about a female crew member of the animators being a slalom fan, using her idea of having scopedogs strafe across battlefields. Takahashi said his original idea for VOTOMS combat was the robots dashing only in straight lines on their skates for about 40 metres, then stopping. He mentioned the influence of other sci-fi works on VOTOMS, particuarly Blade Runnder on Uuodo and 2001′s HAL 9000 on Wiseman.

    Clements then said Takakhashi is widely known as the father of real robot anime (the bearded guy in a Zaku II shirt behind me muttered that it was actually Tomino who invented real robot anime, but I saw the point he meant. Takahashi was the first to cut out all Super Robot stuff in Dougram). Takahashi then described what real robots were for all the newbies in the audience who wouldn’t know a Mazinger from a Marasai. He also noted that Pailsen Files was his first attempt at mixing cel animation with CG robots, and he rather thought the results stood up well. He said the realtive cheapness and speed of using CG allowed them to show far greater numbers of robots in the battle scenes, like the Saving Private Ryan and The Longest Day influenced beach head landing at the start of the film. Using cel animation for these scenes would have been prohibitively expensive, hence why the franchise has used CG scopedogs ever since.

    When asked to comment on the large number of Korean in betweeners, he noted that nowadays budgets are so small that outsourcing to South Korea and the Phillipines is often the only way to get the work done. About 3000 people maketheir living in Japan as nimators by his estimate, compered to the 12000+ of the 1980′s. Clements asked him how much was the character of Pailsen based on General Douglas Macarthur, to which Takhashi chuckled “About 80% Macarthur!”. He added that his younger production staff saw him more as a German, what with the Nazi regelia and genetic engineering. Clements then began fielding questions at the producer who’s name I sadly can’t remember, who praised Takhashi’s working manner. Unlike a lot of authoritarian directors, Takahashi apparently welcomes input and ideas from even the lower ranking crew members. When asked if he saw the original series, he said he was three at the time the original aired on TV, so he went into Pailsen Files without waching it with the goal of making it accessible to first time viewers.

    With that our brief Q and A ended, with the promise that we would actually get to field our own questions in the free session on Sunday. I’ll post his responses to those in a minute. One final note: during the screening Takhashi and his translation team actually sat a few seats away from me, but I bitched out of saying anything to him. For his part all he did was cough a few times, and wince at the occasional bit of ropey animation. Seemed to be a lovely guy for all the brief time he was on stage.

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  1. Matt Wells says:

    October 18, 2011 at 11:09 pm (Edit)

    Sorry for the delay, here’s the rest. The morning after the screening of Pailsen Files, there was an hour long Q and A with Takahashi on his entire career, with some questions open to the audience. Though a free event, it was ticket only attendance, so I almost missed out on it due to my stupidity with event booking. Getting up at 7′o clock payed off when I was granted a ticket 30 minutes before the interview commenced; I almost squealed out of joy. The audience was a bit less varied than the screening of the film; the occasional obvious Mecha nerd (like the fat guy in the Zaku II shirt), Japanese students, and hardcore anime fans who actually knew what the fuck Mushi Productions was, and why it was cool to hear about them.

    A fantastic experience, let down only by the fact that half of our once-in-a-lifetime interview was taken up by a screening of the first episode of Flag. FLAG. Nothing against Flag, its an excellent series. BUT. But we can watch it anytime we want, its one of the few Takahashi series that have been fully subbed and widely distributed in the English fan community. We could watch it anytime we liked, we could hardly have a convivial chat with the Defining Director of Real Robot Anime as the mood struck us. Bleh.

    Anyway, Flag went down far smoother than VOTOMS did, and gave the audience more inclined to artsy stuff a good introduction to Takahashi’s oevure, or at least better than a sequel to a 30 year old TV series. Right after that, they screened a few TV promos for Takahashi’s recent-ish 26 episode TV show, the nigh unpronounceable Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto bleh. A name so difficult, even Jonathan Clements just gave up trying to enunciate it. A round of polite applause followed this, and the formal interview began. We were warned that though the candid interview allowed any questions to be answered, legal restrictions meant that we couldn’t record or film it in any way. Note taking was fine though! Please bear in mind I’m going on my own recollections, notes, and what Takhashi’s lovely translator told us he said. Responses may not be wholly accurate, or sensibly phrased.

    Questions for 20 minutes were fired off by Clements, the resident anime industry insider and genral expert, fro his own compiled list. A streak of snark a mile wide in his interview style too!

    What was the sum total of his involvement in Flag? – Flag was a show he shopped around for ten years, trying to convince Sunrise top brass to fund. The question was asked due to the story credited to himself and “Team Flag”. Takahashi told us Team Flag was a placename for the myriad legions of people who supported him during this time. The narrative structure and emphasised style of photography was always intended from the begining. Not that he said this, but this confirmed that my own observation that both Gasaraki and Flag were works he’d been trying to make for years, and were only okayed to tie in with current trends. With Gasaraki it was post-Eva robot anime, with Flag it was the recent spate of Docudrama style “shakycam” pictures, like Cloverfield.

    What was his first ever exposure to TV animation? – As a post-war child, did the style of Kamibaishi performers ultimately influence his directorial style? (think a mixture betwen narrated manga, paper latern shows, and travelling circuses. Google it!) – From what he remembered, animation was always on Japanese television from the 50′s onwards, though they were dubbed American imports like Disney or Hannah Barbera Tom and Jerry cartoons. His first real exposure to Japanese animation came with a series of yearly animated specials by Toei circa 1958. He rembered watching Kamibaishi shows with the other village children, the distance of two metres between the performer and the audience lead him to ultimately strive for immediacy in his work, drawing his audience into the screen with the characters.

    When exactly did he decide to go into animation? – He said with a huge grin the exact date he decided: Autumn 1963. This got a tremendous response from the audience; as Mr. Clements helpfully reminded us, this was the broadcast date for the original black and white series of Tetsuwan Atom, known in the US as Astro Boy. If you know your history, then you know Tezuka’s cheap little commercial to his own manga revolutionised the Japanese model of TV animation, setting the ground for cost-cutting measures, tie-in promotion, rushed production schedules and underpaid animators that we know and love today! In the wake of Atom there was a huge boom in applicants to the feldgling industry, and Takahashi was but one of many hungry yougsters wanting in on that sweet animation money.

    After learning the basics of the biz, he applied to join Tezuka’s production company, Mushi Pro, in the Winter of 1964 (might have the date wrong). There were two parts to the application, a drawing test and a spoken interview. He passed the drawing test well enough, they just asked him to make dozens of identical copies of the same drawing. It was the interview he failed, at least to become an animator. When they asked him on whether he would mind drawing hundreds and hundreds of idetical drawings every week, he said of course he did! That was the impetus for him to become a director, because he said that way he wouldn’t have to draw so much!

    And what was it like working with the God of Manga himself, Osamu Tezuka? – Takahashi gave this one some brief thought, before responding, “You know… he was a wonderful guy… 99% of the time!” He described him as a truly lovely guy, always encouraging the staff to come up with creative, new ideas and concepts. Whenever they presented them, regular as clockwork, he would say: “What is this?! GO BACK AND START AGAIN TILL YOU GET IT RIGHT!”,which was met with more uproarious laughter by the audience. As far as creative input went, he was very accomadating and open to suggestions. In those days the industry was just like a sweatshop, always working non-stop to get that week’s episode done.

    They had no time to go home, so they were allowed to keep footrests underneath their desks. People fell asleep at their desks whenever time permitted. He recalls being nudged awake on occasion, and turning around to see Tezuka staring at him (he sat right next to Tezuka). Not that he meant Mr. Tezuka fancied him or anything he was quick to point out! (I think that’s what his anecdote was. He may have said that he saw Tezuka asleep at the desk, and he stared at him) He was a man who always gave it his all, constantly producing concepts and drawings non-stop. Possessed of a tremendous energy. He said he’s yet to encounter a man who knew Tezuka that didn’t like him in some way. Very personable fellow (and the pupil takes after the master in that regard).

    His first ever experience as a director? – He said it was on a Mushi show called… Wonder Seven I think? The earliest thing he worked on according to ANN was a called Ora Guzura Dado, but this came first. He MIGHT have meant the series W3, the one about three space cops who take on the forms of a bunny, horse and duck, but don’t quote me on that. He said Wonder Seven, so that’s what I’m sticking to. He explained about the two tiers of directors, episode directors and chief directors, on Wonder Seven he ended up directing ten of it’s 52 episodes. One Hundred and Twenty people worked on that programme in total, himself included. Production on a single episode from idea to broadcast was roughly three months, and the schedules for episodes were always overlapping. One day they might film the climax of episode 34, the other they would finish character designs for episode 12. His first show as a chief director was at Sunrise in 1973.

    So in between the well publicised collapse of Mushi Pro and his joining Sunrise, what did he do? – All sorts of odd jobs on anime here and there. Script writing, story concepts and episode direction for Tatsunoko and Toei, amongst others. He had a long spell in Europe where he was involved with Underground Japanese Theatre, if you can imagine such a thing. That came about from an old friend who worked at Mushi Pro, I think his name was Juro Kara (sorry if I’ve gotten this wrong too). He was a scenario writer on Wonder Seven who in time went on to become one of the top three giants in the field of cult, ground breaking Japanese Theatre. He was unique at Mushi for his absolute refusal to check or rewrite his scripts. Tezuka would keep politely requesting he spellcheck his scripts, and Juro would just glare at him and refuse point blank. It got so intense that Tezuka was scared of the man, so Takahashi was the one who ended up correcting his scripts!

    Takhashi was just an audience member at first, watching his friends’ work and getting caught up in the world. As he got to know the cast members and playwrights, Kara encouraged him to produce content for the field. His involvement in the troop was sparked by a certain story of Kara’s. His troupe was on tour in Europe in a raunchy cabaret company, along with his wife and several various good looking young chorus dancers. Part of the show involved them being slathered in gold paint, so when it ended the entire group would jump into a huge bath tub and begin scrubbing the paint off of each other. Upon hearing this Takahashi commented he was struck with a sudden urge to become a dancer and actor! He evetually pulled out of theatre to return to animation, but he mused on how different his life would have been had he decided to commit to acting. His expereince with Japanese theatre later served as inspiration for Gasaraki.

    How did he specfically end up at Sunrise – A lot of Sunrise’s high ranking personel had been his colleagues and senpais at Mushi Pro, and they offered him a job liking his work. Their first show was a respectable hit, Sazedon (again, I might be wrong), which was the adventures of a talking fish. The director on that was someone very famous in the industry (he named no names), but he eventually left Sunrise due to creative disagreements about his methods. Their second show, a science fiction piece called Zero Tester, had been in planning before their debut, and they gave the director’s chair to Takahashi. He sadly didn’t elaborate further on his first experience as a director.

    Given Sunrise’s very market savvy approach, what was the difference between working for them and Mushi Pro? – Takhashi admitted that Sunrise was a far better run comapny than Mushi. With Tezuka, he was concerned with creativity first, profits second. It was this approach that ended up bankrupting his company. Sunrise on the other hand, was very sensible about it’s fiscal policies. They made animation to make money, and creativity sometimes took a backseat to that. He defended the reputation of both companies, noting that Sunrise’s heavy use of tie-in merchandising was a policy invented by Mushi itself, they just geared their shows towards it more. He also commented that Tezuka, while wonderfully creative, could be intimidating in his sheer artistic purity, often to the detriment of his company. His own affinity with Robot anime came about when the market for Robot toys exploded with Mazinger Z, Sunrise exploited this trend for all it was worth. Hence their enduring legacy by playing to the market. He was very careful not to criticise the current Sunrise administration, given that one of their producers was sharing the interview with him, the same as Saturday.

    Given the pedigree of the young creators at Sunrise and Mushi, did these future giants of the industry go around trying to intimidate each other? Were he and Tomino rivals like the Western fandom imagines? (Not sure where Clements got this idea from. Tomino and Takahashi are oranges and apples, they’re hardly competing with the other to make a “realer” robot show) – Takhashi grinned broadly at this, saying those young guys are now old contemporaries who know each other very well. He gets on fairly cordially with Tomino actually, they play Golf together sometimes, but that’s as far as their “rivalry” goes. He said with great humility that Tomino is a Shining Star of animation, he sees himself like a little street lamp. Baaaawww! You would not believe how sweet this man was in person.

    Could he describe the exact influence of Japanese theatre on Gasaraki – Oh boy, this one went weird fast. Clements referenced how Takahashi’s experience informed much of Gasraki, which he also said was much better recieved in the UK than the USA! IDidNotKnowThat.jpg. Takhashi launched into a lengthy explaination that left out the influence on the ending itself, about how the entire plot has been one of misdirection and deception, just like actual Japanese theater (Which reminds me: I really need to watch Gasaraki). What he ACTUALLY told us was explaining that in robot anime, one of the biggest problems he finds that plagues a director is coming up with an explination for what powers these colossal robots. Early on they just made up terms and concepts, like Getter Rays, Photonic Energy and Choudenji Power, but as time went by series became more sophisticated, and these explainations seemed silly. Hence the need to come up with more… UNIQUE forms of energy to drive mecha.

    Takahashi said that even as a native Japanses person, he finds Noh theatre to be a truly BIZARRE art form. The traditional Noh saying of “30 years in three steps” fascinated him; the idea that slow, controlled motions represents the passage of an enorous period of time. In those three steps, the human heart beats roughly 200 times, enormous potential, power and emotion focussed into a few simple movements, and all of it concentrated and repeated ad infinitum in a tiny circle on stage. The idea of concentrating energy in this singularly unusal fashion was a major influence upon Gasaraki. With this mind blowing explaination the audience members sort of had a dazed look in their eyes, and I was one of them. No wonder it took him a decade to sell the show on Sunrise, huh? :) With that the floor was opened up to the audience for a glorious, if brief, 15 minutes. For the ease of reading, I’ll post them seperately.

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  1. Matt Wells says:

    October 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm (Edit)

    Jesus, sorry about the wall of text up there. Here are the handful of questions submitted by the audience to Takahashi. There would have been twice as many if they skipped on showing us an entire episode of Gasaraki, but beggars can’t be choosers. First to get their hands up was yours truly, postulating the very question Ghost himself asked.

    1. If you had the oppertunity to direct a robot series without concessions like a budget, advertising and sponsor deals, what would it be about (format, length, subject etc.)? – Takahashi said in a rather apologetic tone that he actually doesn’t even LIKE robot anime that much! :( He only really became so famous for making mecha anime because it was a genre he felt comfortable in, and the support for tie-in merchandising allowed him to explore the kind of stories he actually wanted to tell. Animation budgets aren’t that big a deal as they used to be, so he reckoned that he could complete a show on a failrly modest budget. He’d personally like to tell a story indulging whatever subject he wanted, though he didn’t have any ideas currently. He said he’d like it best tot tell this story over the course of a year, so it would be a 52 episode series at least.

    2. (As posited by blogging contemporary and Tetsujin 28 fan, Andrew Graruru) Given the enduring popularity of VOTOMS in Japan and its myriad sequels, would he consider ever revisiting some of his older shows, making sequels to SPT Layzner or Fang of the Sun Dougram? – Takahashi personally prefers making brand new properties and series to revisiting old ones. In the case of VOTOMS and Galient, he made sequels due to both enormous fan demand for them, and for what he personally felt was room for expanding or improving upon the original story. If he thinks a sequel is necessary, he said he’ll do it.

    3. Does he think that recent tends indicate that hand drawn animation in Japan will be inevitably replaced by CG animation, given his own reliance upon it in VOTOMS and Flag? – Takahashi said that the Japanese animation industry still treats CG as a shortcut above all else, not the next big thing. He thinks old style animation is too heavily ingrained upon the industry for it to ever completely die out in favour of CG animation. Bit of an old timer’s answer, but what do you expect?

    4. What is the greatest difference between making a mecha show today compared to how it was in the 1980′s? – Back then it was all a matter of making the robots as unique as possible compared to theri contemporaries. The better you could make the robots, the better it would reflect on toy sales and serve to move your story forward. Today, he said robot anime has very few original concepts, characters or designs. 90% of everything is either a rehash, remake or sequel to something that already exists. He believes that if a director can come up with a truly fresh concept for his show, the Japanese public would immediately make it a hit, as they did with Gundam and VOTOMS.

    5. (Last Question) About his brief time as an episode director for the Mushi version of The Moomins… – His reply was along the lines of “I WAS HUNGRY AND I NEEDED THE MONEY!!!” No, seriously. :) When the laughs subsided, he said he would love to see a moomin style race of creatures in Japanese culture. Alternating between his house in Tokyo and his place in the countryside, he often imagines little moomin like beings running around the mountains (sounded very Miyazaki here!). He joked that an old man like himself is much more suited to tell a story about such magical folk rather than a younger director!

    With that our time was regretfully up. Takahashi and his associate politely expressed their thanks for their kind reception at the festival. Many rounds of applause for the Edinburgh Filmhouse for forking out the cash to bring him there, and for his excellent translator who was able to convey all his responses to us. I heartily apologise for being unable to remember her name. I’m glad Takahashi was able to get a few hours playing St. Andrews, if nothing else from the trip, and he thanked us all for the warm reception. One of those once in a lifetime oppertunities as an anime fan, I’m glad I even got to experience it. The only shame was that I didn’t bring anything for him to sign, and that we didn’t get to pick his brains any longer. Takahashi truly is one of the nicest guys in Japanese animation, and I’m glad I was able to confirm that in person. Here’s hoping Scotland Loves Anime is even bigger and better next year, and that they forward their prints to a Newcastle cinema like they will this month!

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October 21, 2011

Stormshrug on Gundam AGE and the Scale of Robot Anime Sci-Fi Bullshit

Original Post: Does Gundam AGE’s AGE System Make The Impossible Possible? (Gundam AGE Episode 02)

 

Stormshrug says:

October 18, 2011 at 4:42 am (Edit)

The AGE system was gigantically less bullsh*t than I expected, and this pleases me greatly. Of course, it’s just setting me up for eventual disappointment, but still, I was very gratified to see the AGE system be “normal sci-fi total bullsh*t” and not “LOLOLOL Lambda Driver GN Spiral Power Super Robot bullsh*t.”

On a scale of Giant Robot bullsh*t, it ranks as follows:

-Use of Inflatable Santas as Decoys (totally not bullsh*t and completely awesome)

-Wrist-Mounted Gatling Guns (probably not actually feasible but not particularly bullsh*t)

-Minovsky Particles (bullsh*t that justifies other, bigger in-setting bullsh*t)

-Magically Indestructible New Metals (bullsh*t, but too common to complain much about)

-The AGE System (at least it doesn’t use “nanomachines”)

-Robots that Can Fly (like a jet) (kinda bullsh*t)

-I-Fields (kinda bullsh*t, but limited in scope and therefore acceptable)

-Rock-throwing Zakus (F*CKIN’ ROCKS OUT OF NOWHERE)

-The Unicorn’s Newtype Destroyer Mode

-Robots that Can Hover Indefinitely (f*ck you, Code Geass R2)

-Lasers that Bend and Home-In (why do so many good shows insist on this particular piece of bullsh*t?)

-Teleporting Robots

-Lambda Drivers (“You thought this was Real Robot, didn’t you, sucker” bullshit)

-The Gundam Hammer, in all incarnations (Wait, wasn’t the morning star one of the most dangerous, difficult to control weapons OF ALL TIME? LET’S PUT ONE ON A GIANT ROBOT!)

-Being a successful pacifist in a giant robot

-Anything to do with Gundam Seed Destiny

-Chickens on Bright Noah’s head (FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-)

SH*TTY POSTER, HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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October 6, 2011

FV on Incestuous Love in Mawaru Penguindrum

Original Post: Colloquium: Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 12

FV

October 3, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I honestly hope the incest isn’t the fuel to the Survival Strategy. Not because it makes me uncomfortable, but because being required just for being taboo seems like a disappointing oversimplification which removes all layers of complexity from incestuous love. Also, although the show certainly takes incestuous tones, I still can’t agree that what we are witnessing truly is incestuous love. The situation between Kanba and Himari seems more complex than that. The way I see it, Kanba, acting as the older brother, was the one who felt the angriest towards his parents when they were “found”(and went to jail, possibly), because not only had they jeopardized his future, but also the future of the siblings he was so protective of. Their parents had fated them all to nothingness, which lead him to hate fate. At the same time, he became even more protective of his siblings, especially Himari, the youngest and most vulnerable of the three, especially since she was sick. This brought them closer, and Kanba’s (fraternal) love for Himari grew stronger.

And one day, Himari dies. Kanba, however, gets a chance to revive her by giving him a “part of his life” (whatever this ends meaning, literal or not). He was literally able to save someone he loved deeply, bringing them that much closer. Besides, the death of someone dear makes you look back at your relationship with them. This miraculous second chance opens all possibilities again, and it is indeed a miracle for the brothers, especially for Kanba, who loves Himari so fiercely. For me, the kiss in the bedroom is the first moment in Kanba’s life in which he considers the possibility. His hatred towards fate (as evidenced in his speech) and the turmoil of emotions caused by Himari’s resurrection make him wonder “What if?” (he even says it in his speech). I don’t interpret this moment as flat-out incest, but as a vulnerable Kanba letting his mind wander between his love for his sister and his defiance of fate.

Consequently, I don’t consider the Princess’s Survival Strategy an act of incestuous sex. It feels more like a ritualistic event. The show, as has become evident by now, heavily references Adam and Eve, from visual cues to similar themes. The apple, the sacred tree, the taboo, the defiance of fate, and, most of all, the inherited cursed fate – the original sin all mankind carries because Adam and Eve ate the apple. Looking at the show in this light, Himari’s nakedness is not only acceptable but appropriate. The naked body is the original and purest form (the first thing Adam and Eve did after eating the Apple was to cover themselves), the raw of the human being, and it makes sense for Himari to show herself in such a way for an essential act such as resurrection. Even if I disregard this far-fetched theory, the act of resurrecting is something so remarkably monumental, so miraculous in it’s essence, that there is no greater way to show it than to bring the characters to their most essential form and have them reach the core of human existence. Our view on resurrection has become incredibly tepid, since in movies and anime it tends to be nothing more than a deus ex machina tap in the head. In Mawaru Penguindrum, I think it’s treated with the flair it deserves, making a much-needed impression both visually and psychologically.

Regarding the act of Survival Strategy itself, I didn’t find it to be very sexual, despite Himari’s nakedness and closeness to Kanba. The act isn’t pleasurable or “enlightening” – it’s a painful, excruciating act of self-sacrifice. Kanba doesn’t do it because he desires to, he does it because he must do it to save Himari. Even the Princess (in a brilliantly sorrowful state) seems to show some pity on him, telling him to stop because it won’t work – I actually think she is trying to spare him the pain since she already know it’s useless, which is a surprising sign of emotion on her part.

Therefore, I think the Princess doesn’t necessarily need incestuous love. What she needs is someone who loves Himari enough to give her a part of their life. Who better than Kanba, the brother who loves her so deeply that all other girls seem to pale in comparison (as skillfully shown in episode 10)? In fact, the only hint at incest I got from this episode was the image of the Princess and Kanba’s embrace (which was really beautiful by the way). The Princess’s defeated look and Kanba’s “please, give me hope” look were very powerful, and that’s what makes me wonder what feelings are hiding behind their eyes. Maybe it’s a love other than fraternal, maybe just the despair of someone who only has his brother and sister to cling to. Or maybe it wasn’t a moment between Kanba and Himari, but between Kanba and the Princess. The connection between Himari and the Princess is still vague, but this episode was the first time I felt some other motivation behind the Princess, a voice that spoke with emotion. Whether it was hers or Himari’s, I don’t know yet.

Well, in the end, my point is: from what I’ve seen so far, there may or may not be incest ahead. It really depends on the route the story decides to take. Either way, it can be really interesting.

By the way, everyone seems to be focusing a lot on the “fake twins” theory. I do think there’s something strange in the way Kenzan speaks about the birth of “a boy”, but it’s too vague and I don’t want to enter any overcomplicated theories when there is so little to run with. For all we know, he might be talking about the twin that was born already, while the other one is still in the womb. Multiple births can be minutes, hours apart. Maybe the sign for the beginning of the attack was only the birth of the first baby. This would provide an additional reason for him to want to get to the hospital as soon as possible (to witness the birth of his second son). In fact, I’m curious as to why no one has talked about the black bunnies yet. Not only are they curiously twins like the Takakuras but they break the mold of animal symbolism so far – they’re neither aquatic animals nor birds. Personally, I’m really intrigued by what they represent, especially after the Mary story. I think they may stand for the “quick fix”, the easy way to change fate that, in turns, hurts the fate of many other people. In the story the ashes were easy to get, while the Penguindrum is proving to be quite hard to get. Also, “Mary”(Kenzan) follows a self-centered path, while the Takakuras’ defiance of fate seems much more focused on self-sacrifice. In this way, I think the bunnies may become an antagonistic force (something which was already a bit obvious from the way they were presented), although I don’t think the Mawaru Penguindrum world is as simple as to be dividable between good and evil.

I’m really curious to see how it develops from now on. Every character has shown a level of depth that shows there’s a lot to be explored, although for me Shouma is the most intriguing. I think that, although quiet, he loves Himari as much as Kanba does (no incestuous tones though), and is putting as much effort as him into keeping her alive, albeit not in such a flashy way. His quiet support out of the frontline has made me respect him somewhat. I’m really curious to see where they take his character.

Whew, sorry for writing such a monumental wall of text. I actually had to rewrite all this because I accidentally lost all I wrote when I finished. Browsers are evil.

Also, a nod to the series’ creators for the amazing writing and timing of the line “Because punishment has to be the most unjust”. It hit me deep.

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September 3, 2011

kadian1364 on Filler in Anime (and Cowboy Bebop)

Original Post: Cowboy Bebop ep 06 “Sympathy for The Devil” and The Episode as a Jam Session

 

kadian1364 says:

September 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I believe a strict definition of “filler” should describe an episode that doesn’t make any significant development in character, plot, setting, or theme. However, common fandom parlance throws around the label for episodes that are unrelated to the main plot and are of perceived lesser quality. But in either definition, “Sympathy for the Devil” doesn’t qualify because of its strong emphasis on character, setting, and theme, and the masterful workmanship of Bebop that’s evident in all of its episodes. There is no valid justification of calling Bebop filler; it’s either a thoughtless attempt to detract the work as a whole, or someone genuinely believes Bebop would be better off as a six episode, plot-centric series. Those people can have that show if they want it, but I’ll take my sweeeet harmonica riff and enjoy my show.

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August 24, 2011

Marigold Ran on Usagi Drop Ringing True

Original Post:

Usagi Drop Roundup: The Viewers Speak Up!

By ghostlightning | Published: August 23, 2011

MarigoldRan

Posted August 24, 2011 at 12:14 am | Permalink

Why the devil wasn’t I put on the discussion panel? I’ve probably more experience with kids than all of you COMBINED. I’ve been working with large groups of them for the last 6 or 7 years. For better or worse (Generally for the better. But not always. Hohoho).

In regards to question 1, I’m SHOCKED that an anime managed to accurately depict a child. I think this is the first time it has happened. From other anime shows I’ve watched, I’ve gathered that kids were either:

1. Miniature teenagers in disguise (Nanoha, various other shows).
2. Miniature adults in disguise (Cowboy Bebop).
3. Poor saps waiting to be victimized by monsters (Monster, Princess Mononoke).
4. Objects of adult/teenage interest (examples abound. Shudder).
5. Geniuses (Azumanga Daioh, Kare Kano)
6. Or the Permanently Cheerful Child (these types are surprisingly common in fiction. I don’t get it. If the writers think about it, it should be pretty obvious that NO ONE can stay permanently cheerful).

Rin acts normal for a kid in her circumstance. In episode 1, when she climbs the steps, she USES HER HANDS. When she’s angry that Daikichi didn’t pick her up, SHE KNOCKED DOWN A TOWER OF BLOCKS. When she wants to reach the grandfather clock, SHE GOES TO THE KITCHEN AND GETS A STOOL WITHOUT TALKING TO ANYONE. She likes piggy-back rides, BUT DOESN’T WANT TO BE CAUGHT ON ONE. She doesn’t understand the concept of I’m-really-tired-in-the-morning-and-I’m-an-adult-and-no-I-don’t-want-to-wake-up-at-5:45 AM-idea. She likes bouncing on the bed (and falling off it) when the adults are talking on the phone. When Daikichi tries to see which clothes fit on her, SHE WAVES HER HANDS UP AND DOWN. When she sees a stranger, SHE RUNS AWAY BECAUSE SHE’S SHY. Etc. etc.

Also, Reina is pretty accurate too. Her mom obviously has no idea what to do with her so Reina takes full advantage of the situation to do whatever she wants to do. This includes:

1. Running around the house.
2. Running around other people’s houses.
3. Makes friends easily.
4. Clamoring for stuff constantly.
5. Generally getting what she wants.
6. A lot of fun to be around for people who are not responsible for her. A headache for the parents though.

So, yes, Usagi Drop gets a lot of these little details RIGHT. Which is extremely rare for anime.

As to question #2: Do I want a kid?
No. Yes, eventually, but right now it’s way too early. First I need more money. Then a (beautiful) girlfriend. Then a wife. Then children. In that order. So there’s a long way to go.

Question #3: Do I have nostalgia for childhood? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No. Do I have anxiety as an adult? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No. Anxiety, nostalgia, and worry require emotional memory, which I don’t have much of. After all, you have to REMEMBER you’re anxious to be anxious, you get my drift?

I’ll continue to watch Usagi Drop out of interest.

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August 13, 2011

animekritik on fascism and the postmodern

Original Post: On The Interpretation of Anime (or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bog)

animekritik says:

August 13, 2011 at 10:32 am

Bad idea rewatching Utena in the middle of Penguindrum, unless you’re thinking of dropping Penguindrum :D

As to this fascism and post-modernism issue, it seems to me that to the extent that the Nazis tried desperately to hold onto a myth of German superiority, they were the antithesis of post-modernism and superflat worldviews etc. However, yes, I think the desperation you saw in some of these Germans betrayed a creeping awareness that not even the Germans escaped from this annihilation of absolute values (especially not the Germans). So that in a twisted sense post-modernism can be said to descend from the fascist project even though it opposes it. Put another way, if a German wakes up one day in 1945 and realizes all of a sudden that his race has no absolute claim to anything, then the only thing that’s left to him/her is to accept that no other race has any absolute claim to anything. And of course, we might dislike the way this realization plays out, but that doesn’t affect in any way its truth value.

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August 9, 2011

ghostlightning on growing into adulthood

Original Post: I’m 20 Years Old? FFFFFFFFFFFF Why Can’t I Look Like Sakurano Kurimu?!

ghostlightning
August 8, 2011 at 12:39 am

I want to be Son Gohan, all of 6 years old and the strength of a T-Rex. I can delve pretty big holes all by myself. I want to be an a room full of all the Lego bricks in the world and make Gundams for a month, then emerge from it as a fully formed adult and show my shit off on the internet.

I want to be a little girl just like my little girl so we can play and wrestle and dance together, then after a few hours I’ll turn back into her father so I can lift her up and adore her until my heart explodes.

I want to meet my wife again when we were both teenagers. Then a few days later be ourselves again so we can laugh: she at my long hair, me at her braces.

The wish to be a kid again never, ever goes away. So does the wish to never grow older than how you are at any time. But I realize I seldom wish to stay a particular age: like, I’d wish I was 18 again, but only for a few days, or maybe be 23 while backpacking through the world over a year… but nothing like to be a certain younger age again period.

To disappear from one’s milieu is to abandon one’s relationships in a way. Their relationship is with me, me the adult, the 34 year old husband, and father. I can’t be 18 and leave my wife at 36. That wouldn’t be fair. I wouldn’t like myself that much if I did. It would be a supremely selfish choice. And this, has less to do with being mature or adult, but just being loving.

The adventures I want to have are adventures with them. Sure I have 25 year-old friends who I probably can’t keep up with partying, or I won’t be able to join traveling. I accept this. I had my adventures at that age. The adventures I need to have, are those with the people I’m with and who I love.

Right now, you’re surrounded by people your age, and it’s easy to feel the things you’re feeling. The game here is to just live, go out and do things. You’ve done a bit of that, now do more, while you can, so that whatever you’re doing at whatever age will be things that feel right, because the things you haven’t done yet will be there for you to do, and the things that you miss, are already things you’ve done.

Happy Birthday bro. When I turned 20 it was both the best and worst day of my life. I would never ever want to go through that day and night ever again. But I would never change anything.

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August 1, 2011

Snippett on Hanasaku Iroha’s Okami-san

Original Post: Hanasaku Iroha 18 and It’s Okay to Be Who You Really Aren’t

Snippett says:

August 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm

What I noticed from Okami-san is she’s separating herself as mom and manager. During the Young Master’s arc, it was showed that she has that switch button for her transformation. She specifically mentioned that it’s TIME for her to become a MOTHER. The problem is, she can’t entirely be that two different persons to her kids mainly because Kissuiso isn’t just their workplace, but also it’s their home. The logic is, one space is just always perfect for one entity. Just like Nako, she has her own space (home) to become loud, and another space (otherwise) to be the timid one. Hence, Okami-san isn’t that successful of a parent and a manager because she tries to fit-in her two roles in one space. Indeed, she’s able to do that but the failure arose when she couldn’t use her roles to its full potential–she has to reduce them in order to fit into that space.

As for her daughter, of course she still wants her back. I believed that she’s still likes her to take-over the inn, that’s her dream right? Remember when Setsuko had her and Ohana drunk. She mentioned that’s she’s visioning Setsuko handling the inn together with Ohana. I think for Okami-san as a manager, Setsuko is fitter to succeed the inn than the young master because she’s smarter. And as mommy, she wants to be with her child. So it’s a win-win situation for her if she’ll have Setsuko inherit the inn.

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July 8, 2011

Matt Wells on Kamjin and the Alien Rivals in Robot Anime

Original Post: Cho Jikuu Yosai Macross: Remembering the Killer Episodes (05-08)

Matt Wells says:

July 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm

[…] As far as the “Noble” enemy rival trope Kamjin seems to disparage, the earliest example I can think of would be Prince Sharkin in Brave Raideen; the character archetype was refined into its more modern form with none other than Prince Heinel in Voltes V, and Richter in Tosho Daimos. Note that all three are aliens, same as Kamjin. Its a common trope in older anime. Char merely branched out into the more modern “Masked Rival” sub-trope.

Not that the idea that the rival figure in a series can be a figure of contempt is anything new, similar contemporary examples I can think of at the time would be Ypsilon in VOTOMS and Gostello (sort of) in SPT Layzner. I just read Kamjin that way from both how the series presents him (like his exchange with Hikaru in ep. 7 seeing them equally matched) and from the narrative role he seems to fit in the series. Kamjin is thrown into the rival role, ill fitting though it might be, so I saw him as a deliberate subversion of it.

Macross seems to be all about referencing and subverting the Mecha shows that came before it, its creators remembering love just as Nadesico did to far more Post-Modern effect 15 years later. […]

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