Archive for August, 2009

August 25, 2009

Vendredi on Suruga Monkey (Bakemonogatari)

Original post here: [->]

vendredi

August 25, 2009 at 8:09 am

This one was fairly mind-blowing; perhaps it’s the absence of the other characters to balance out Suruga’s lightning delivery… but surprisingly enough I recall the “Monkey Paw” story that Araragi initially attributes to Suruga’s strange condition.

Depending on the version of the story, it involves a group of people finding/buying a dessicated monkey paw talisman that is said to grant three wishes. The first wish is for money, but one of the group’s number is killed as a result (for example, collecting a life insurance payout). One member of the distraught group then tries to wish the other person to life – which has no immediate effect… until several days after the funeral, where an ominous banging is heard on the door. The more sensible minded members of the group then burn the third wish to ensure that the deceased person stays properly dead – as it has been several days since the burial and who knows what horror is now shambling about.

The exact gory details vary on the version – sometimes it’s a family that discovers the paw in the belongings of a long lost relative, or a group of teenagers that steal it from a curio shop; sometimes the paw has three outstretched fingers which curl down as wishes are granted; but the general pattern of the story remains the same. The ultimate theme in the end is that the supernatural power of the three wishes, rather than allowing the group to change fate, causes them to be locked in – their second and third wishes are used up in various states of agonized regret over the results of the first choice.

Meme does point out that Araragi’s story is incorrect: not a monkey but a devil, but still the fact that the story is brought up still raises some interesting ideas. Much as in the original story, Suruga’s wishes are unable to change her ultimate fate; her wishes are made of regrets. She originally wished to help Senjougahara and solve her weight problem, but in the end that only resulted in alienating their relationship. Suruga’s subsequent “omoi” (as noted before, implying feelings, wishes, and weight), is to undo the damage she caused with her first wish, to try and restore what was lost.

Continued […]

To uh, re-iterate in TL:DR fashion,

-The pattern of Suruga’s wishes follows the original “Monkey Paw” story.

-Her first wish is to solve Senjougahara’s weight problem, after discovering it. She approaches Senjougahara, but this results in their relationship becoming alienated. However Senjougahara is indeed cured – just not by Suruga, rather, by Araragi.

-Her second wish is then to restore her previous relationship with Senjougahara – much like the original story, the second wish is made to reverse the consequences of the first. This however results in the manifestation of the “monkey paw” we see in this episode.

-Her third wish now is what Seinime articulates: She wants the monkey paw off her. Her third wish, as in the original Monkey Paw story, is based on the regret felt for the consequences of her second wish.

-This sequence exactly mirrors the pattern of the original Monkey Paw tale: a wish is made, but results in consequences. Rather than live on with the consequences, the protagonists try to reverse them – essentially trying to go back to “how things were before”.

-I predict for the next episode that Meme will point to the root of Suruga’s problems as an inability to move beyond the past, and emphasize the fact that she must live with the consequences of her actions.

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August 24, 2009

Redmaigo on the Absence of Pillage and Burn in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

5redmaigo

Submitted on 2009/08/24 at 8:36am

I too was waiting on the rape, pillage and burn but then I realize that this is Japan. I don’t think the slide into barbarism would occur as quickly in Tokyo as it did in New Orleans.

It has more to do with the pre-disaster social class and societal behaviors that dictates how people react during a disaster. There is an old saying, “it is not the crisis that builds something within us— it simply reveals what we are made of already.”

If you are two-legged hyena before the disaster, then your true self will be revealed when the sh** hits the fan.

At first I was amused at the “extreme” reactions of a few Tokyoites after the quake. When someone would cut in line for rations or step on a persons foot and not excuse themselves I was like, “When the going gets tough, the tough get rude?”

But I realized that the people of Tokyo wouldn’t turn into a violent mob overnight. As you pointed out, during most disasters everyone helps each other.

Of course Japan is used to natural disasters. It has been ingrained in their national psyche since time immemorial. I guess that helps in the short run.

Shikata nai ne?

If things remained this way over a period of time then I can see where things could go Grave of the Fireflies, but not just yet. Since this show is only one cour long lets enjoy this slice-of-life disaster show for what it is.

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August 14, 2009

DonKangolJones on how getting one’s way wouldn’t be as fun

DonKangoJones comments on Powerful Dialogue Sells the Show: Bakemonogatari 03 (Mayoi Snail 1) and Macross Frontier 03 (On Your Marks)

DonKangolJones

August 14, 2009 at 6:24 am

I had a funny feeling while watching Bakemonogatari 03. Either this is where I get off, or I’m watching something brilliant that I don’t think I’m prepared for. The first thing that struck me (maybe I should say distracted)was the imagery. The colors and art were just beautiful. But something kept snapping me out of it. The dialogue. The somewhat insane dialogue. It seemed melancholy & introspective. It was almost like you were staring at a piece of art and there was someone have a deep, interesting conversation right in front of it.

Senjougahara clearing dominates the conversation. And in a way it felt like she was dominating the viewer. Or at least me because I apparently think like Araragi. And while it was fun to listen to and nice to think about, I really did want to stop her, look her in the eye , and ask her some straight questions and get straight answers. But I guess it wouldn’t be as fun that way, nor would she be as mysterious and sexy.

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August 14, 2009

Sorrow-Kun on the advantage of dialogue that is “about” something

Sorrow-kun comments on Powerful Dialogue Sells the Show: Bakemonogatari 03 (Mayoi Snail 1) and Macross Frontier 03 (On Your Marks)

I think the advantage of using dialogue which is, as you put it, “about” something is that it’s a lot more creative than just mere exposition. It begs the audience to look for subtext and context, to engage with what the characters are talking about, and, more importantly, what they’re saying (subtle difference, people can “say” things without actually talking, and any good visual medium, from film to animation, will capture that).

Speaking about “nuance”, which is relevant to Bakemonogatari, I think it’s important to discern the difference between “believable” and “realistic” in the case of Senjougahara. She’s not realistic at all in the same sense as characters from Honey and Clover are. She’s an entirely fictional construct, but she’s thoroughly entertaining and sympathetic because of it. They’ve spent time building her up as a capricious character with a knack for elaborate speech, which is why when she says what she says, it’s believable, even though it’s unique and (arguably) out of left field. Bakemonogatari as an anime, overall, is unstructured (most Shinbo anime are), but because of that, it has a huge amount of freedom to go wherever it pleases. It’s probably the most delicious anime I can remember since Kannagi.

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August 13, 2009

2DT on Feeling and Putting things into words

honey and clover 22 shuu sensei sunset smoking

2DT comments on loneliness and a lifetime; an exploration on a turn of phrase in honey and clover.

2DT

August 13, 2009 at 1:45 am

The difference between western and eastern philosophy, a friend once told me, was that the east concerned itself with feeling the universe, while the west took the task of trying to explain it in words. So it’s funny that you write this essay to try and work through what Shuuji expresses in just a few words about nature.

Which isn’t to say that one is necessarily better than the other. With Shuuji’s statement, I can sit back and feel that “Yes, this matches my experience.” With what you’ve written, there’s a greater capacity for me to write this comment and say to you, “I am going through what you have been through.”

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August 12, 2009

Sakura on Love Triangles and Macross

macross haruhiko mikimoto hayase misa ichijyo hikaru lynn minmay
[Spoilers for SDF Macross]
Sakura of Calamitous Intents comments.

August 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

I just started reading Parfait Tic which is all about a really complex love triangle, one of the few I think is actually well done.

Such as the original Macross, I love that we got a solid conclusion and it showed a lot of character growth on the part of Hikaru. Because he was able to finally see who truly did care for him, rather than him continuing to chase the ghost of Minmei.

Who while she may have had genuine feelings for him, always seemed to put her needs first. Even right at the end, when she wanted to just play house with him. It was what she wanted, she never stopped to think that his views may have changed and that perhaps he wanted something different from back when they had first met.

And again this Triangle is sort of an homage to that original one. Because we can totally see elements of Minmei and Misa in Sheryl and Ranka.

Ranka while she may have feelings for Alto, certainly doesn’t seem to take the time to listen to Alto and his wants and needs. Its all about her own, she’s always running to him for advice. So in that aspect she’s sort of like Minmei.

Whereas Sheryl listens to what he has to say, I mean look at the birthday offer. She knew what was important to him and tried to give him that, which reminds me a lot of Misa.

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August 12, 2009

Reaction from someone who was in China during the 2008 Magnitude 8.0 Earthquake in Sichuan

sichuan-earthquake

From:

Is it Okay to Like Mirai Now? (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 05)

  1. 6 ScrambledEggs

    August 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

    I too was moved by this episode. I had flashbacks to the Sichuan Earthquake and the collapsing schools. Parents should never have to bury their own children, let alone dig them out of rubble.

    What’s worse is the fact that these were government-built schools, and adjacent government offices did NOT collapse. Grief turned to anger and rage at the apparent corruption that had caused shoddy construction… and of course the Party then cracked down on them.

    Also the Sichuan quake was in a remote area during the worst part of the rainy season. Help took weeks to arrive in many places. Not to mention that large amounts of aid were siphoned off by corrupt officials (or so the average citizen believes, anyway).

    At least Mari, Mirai, and Yuuki don’t have to deal with any of that crap. In fact, so far we haven’t seen much of the ugly side of human nature at all. Some rudeness, a few selfish survivors, but no downright maliciousness. And the government response has obviously been well-prepared and highly-efficient. Humans have an amazing capacity to make a terrible tragedy worse, but our heroes are lucky enough to live in a relatively decent society where that doesn’t happen as much. If nothing else, that’s something for them to be thankful for.

    • 7 ghostlightning

      August 9, 2009 at 3:17 am

      I’m not that familiar with the recent earthquakes (China, Turkey, Iran come to mind).

      Mike from Anime Diet shared this article in the comments section of the review I linked to above [->]

      The aricle talks about how people can behave well in the face of calamity. It seems that the people of Tokyo are consistent with some of the observations in that TIME Magazine article. I do think that Mirai, Yuuki, and Mari have much to be thankful for.

      Pardon my repeating what I said somewhere else,

      What this does, in my view is allow the narrative to concentrate on the minutiae of concerns that give such nuance to the show. The characters don’t need to, or at least haven’t needed to deal with external threats (human malice/desperation) save for the physical threat of the earthquakes.

      Thus we are treated to an examination of the nature of indignity in the fourth episode. I think shit is one of the indignities we are most ashamed of because it is a constant in our lives and we are so intimate with it. Mirai going through what she did in the first part of episode 04 was an effective set-up to a breakdown extreme even for her notable irritableness and emotional negativity.

      In a addition to this, the narrative allows Mirai the latitude to empathize with the suffering of others, because there are no external threats in the form of malicious humans.

      • 8 ScrambledEggs

        August 9, 2009 at 4:15 am

        Thank you for the link! That was a fascinating and inspiring article.

        I mentioned China because I was in the country at the time and knew people involved. It’s interesting to compare the circumstances there with the ones portrayed here. They’re very similar in some ways, but also dramatically different in others.

        You’re right though. The absence of malice from survivors or government makes it possible for them to empathize with others. In a more hostile environment, such feelings would likely be replaced with wariness and suspicion. Touching scenes like the ones we had in this episode are possible because they aren’t threatened like that. And that is a good thing, I think.

        Oh, and I really hope that their parents aren’t dead… I would probably cry. I wonder if we’ll find out next episode?

        • 9 ghostlightning

          August 9, 2009 at 10:13 am

          That must have been quite the experience, to have been in China in such a time. Were you anywhere near the affected area?

          My only similar experience was way back when I was Mirai’s age in 1990, during Baguio Magnitude 7.8 [->].

          Baguio City is about 8 hours by land North of Metro Manila where I live (the epicenter is actually closer, about 3-4 North by land). We were lucky to not have experienced structural damage in Metro Manila, despite feeling the earth shake violently in our classrooms, and in our homes during the many aftershocks. But Baguio was pretty much messed up.

          We didn’t experience a societal collapse either in the localities most affected, instead our newspapers seemed very eager to report stories of heroism, valor, and survival just as the death tool numbers and the value of property destroyed.

          My experience of the event is far distant to Mirai’s though, and I wouldn’t presume to have a special understanding of what she’s going through, beyond being a conflicted early adolescent.

ScrambledEggs August 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

I too was moved by this episode. I had flashbacks to the Sichuan Earthquake and the collapsing schools. Parents should never have to bury their own children, let alone dig them out of rubble.

What’s worse is the fact that these were government-built schools, and adjacent government offices did NOT collapse. Grief turned to anger and rage at the apparent corruption that had caused shoddy construction… and of course the Party then cracked down on them.

Also the Sichuan quake was in a remote area during the worst part of the rainy season. Help took weeks to arrive in many places. Not to mention that large amounts of aid were siphoned off by corrupt officials (or so the average citizen believes, anyway).

At least Mari, Mirai, and Yuuki don’t have to deal with any of that crap. In fact, so far we haven’t seen much of the ugly side of human nature at all. Some rudeness, a few selfish survivors, but no downright maliciousness. And the government response has obviously been well-prepared and highly-efficient. Humans have an amazing capacity to make a terrible tragedy worse, but our heroes are lucky enough to live in a relatively decent society where that doesn’t happen as much. If nothing else, that’s something for them to be thankful for.

  • 7 ghostlightning

    August 9, 2009 at 3:17 am

    I’m not that familiar with the recent earthquakes (China, Turkey, Iran come to mind).

    Mike from Anime Diet shared this article in the comments section of the review I linked to above [->]

    The aricle talks about how people can behave well in the face of calamity. It seems that the people of Tokyo are consistent with some of the observations in that TIME Magazine article. I do think that Mirai, Yuuki, and Mari have much to be thankful for.

    Pardon my repeating what I said somewhere else,

    What this does, in my view is allow the narrative to concentrate on the minutiae of concerns that give such nuance to the show. The characters don’t need to, or at least haven’t needed to deal with external threats (human malice/desperation) save for the physical threat of the earthquakes.

    Thus we are treated to an examination of the nature of indignity in the fourth episode. I think shit is one of the indignities we are most ashamed of because it is a constant in our lives and we are so intimate with it. Mirai going through what she did in the first part of episode 04 was an effective set-up to a breakdown extreme even for her notable irritableness and emotional negativity.

    In a addition to this, the narrative allows Mirai the latitude to empathize with the suffering of others, because there are no external threats in the form of malicious humans.

    • 8 ScrambledEggs

      August 9, 2009 at 4:15 am

      Thank you for the link! That was a fascinating and inspiring article.

      I mentioned China because I was in the country at the time and knew people involved. It’s interesting to compare the circumstances there with the ones portrayed here. They’re very similar in some ways, but also dramatically different in others.

      You’re right though. The absence of malice from survivors or government makes it possible for them to empathize with others. In a more hostile environment, such feelings would likely be replaced with wariness and suspicion. Touching scenes like the ones we had in this episode are possible because they aren’t threatened like that. And that is a good thing, I think.

      Oh, and I really hope that their parents aren’t dead… I would probably cry. I wonder if we’ll find out next episode?

      • 9 ghostlightning

        August 9, 2009 at 10:13 am

        That must have been quite the experience, to have been in China in such a time. Were you anywhere near the affected area?

        My only similar experience was way back when I was Mirai’s age in 1990, during Baguio Magnitude 7.8 [->].

        Baguio City is about 8 hours by land North of Metro Manila where I live (the epicenter is actually closer, about 3-4 North by land). We were lucky to not have experienced structural damage in Metro Manila, despite feeling the earth shake violently in our classrooms, and in our homes during the many aftershocks. But Baguio was pretty much messed up.

        We didn’t experience a societal collapse either in the localities most affected, instead our newspapers seemed very eager to report stories of heroism, valor, and survival just as the death tool numbers and the value of property destroyed.

        My experience of the event is far distant to Mirai’s though, and I wouldn’t presume to have a special understanding of what she’s going through, beyond being a conflicted early adolescent.

August 12, 2009

The Inauthenticity of Senjougahara Fascination

While bantering with Coburn in the comments section in one of my earlier posts on Bakemonogatari, I conjectured that Araragi instead of being a viewer avatar is actually a commentary on the viewer. From the presence of fetishes to the impotence in fulfilling them — it’s as if the narrative is having fun at the viewer’s expense.

I find this very interesting. What fun it seems for the text to rip into its fans like so. Araragi is powerless against Senjougahara (real), and more himself and can fight on equal terms with Hachikuji (loli, unreal, a ghost). Otaku’s fetish for loli of the 2D variety has something to do with the latter’s powerlessness against the otaku. In the face of a ‘realistic’ woman, Araragi is powerless, has no initiative. His relationship, his life, is directed almost entirely by Senjougahara.

On the way to ‘study group,’ Araragi has no problem dallying with Hachikuji, who teases him with sexual entendre, fights with him, speaks his fetishes out loud while posing no real threat.

No.Real.Threat.

She is a ghost, and he has regenerative abilities. The viewer may like a real Senjougahara to show up in their lives [->] but as an otaku will not let go of the loli fetish. This is the inauthenticity of Senjougahara Fascination.

Furthermore, this regenerative ability… I will further conjecture that it is representative of the resilience of otaku. Hurt them, troll them, piss on them, ‘betray’ them, have your way with them. They will come back if they love you enough. If the Endless Eight DVDs of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu doesn’t sell, then I’m wrong. If “The Disappearance” doesn’t get a generate excitement leading to its release, then I’m wrong.

So Bakemonogatari has no compunctions pissing all over Araragi, the representation of its viewers. Araragi can survive almost anything, even Senjougahara.

Also, in Dungeons and Dragons, usually the first encounter player characters have with a monster that has regeneration abilities is with a Troll.

Just saying.

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