Archive for October, 2009

October 31, 2009

DonKangolJones on Guilty Pleasures

Original Post: Anime is Serious Business Because Guilt is Serious Business

DonKangolJones

Submitted on 2009/10/30 at 9:50pm

[…]

But you know I swoop to material that I can directly relate to. As far as I’m concerned feeling guilty doesn’t apply (at least for me) to most media. Unless I’ve wronged anothe human being in some way playing a video game or watching something on TV I can’t really see the point in guilt.

Taste in anime boils should equate pretty well to taste in music or other mediums. Just because someone likes country music, death metal or german folk songs & I don’t find it desirable doesn’t mean they should feel awkward about it. Same with the whole argument about “pop” songs being crap & lesser known, more underground material being more quality. The initial reaction may be to feel some awkwardness and guilt because a group you associate with doesn’t enjoy it. And that’s natural, but so was the enjoyment you had when you listened to that song without anyone to tell you about it.

When I use anime in my examples some shows IMMEDIATELY come to mind. Most any long time anime fan can think of the contraversial & contentious choices. Naruto, Bleach, Code Geass R2, Evangelion, even Death Note & Lucky Star have been big fat targets. I keep asking myself, “if these people hate the series so much, why have they stuck around for 20 episodes/300 chapters?” I honestly think it’s to cement the fact that they have BETTER taste than those who say they enjoyed or even LOVED the popular material. I don’t care for that. The contentious comments don’t do much to further community or helpful dialogue. Nor does a person’s guilt about such a simple thing. Leave guilt to the matters of real live people.

The only times I can really remember feeling guilt (it was more like embarrassment) was when I had been clinging to a positive opinion of Maria+Holic. I saw something I thought was superior, the first season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. I felt a little silly for considering that show to be of good quality after I saw something that clearly gave me a better idea of what a good dark comedy should be. I got over the guilt and moved on to other anime related matters.

P.S. And no one’s EVER going to make me feel guilty for enjoying R2

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October 30, 2009

OGT on Guilty Pleasures

Original Post: Anime is Serious Business Because Guilt is Serious Business

OGT

Submitted on 2009/10/29 at 4:42am

The phrase “guilty pleasure” is the worst phrase in the English language and I exhort all of you to remove it from your vocabulary post-haste. If something is pleasurable to you, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. There are some things that you probably shouldn’t pleasure yourself with in public (double entendre intended), but certainly not because you feel guilty about enjoying it. One of my greatest pleasures is seeing other people relish the experience of (very obviously) enjoying something they love; one of my greatest pains is seeing other people relish the experience of hating something they dislike.

I get the feeling, in the Western world especially, that “quality” in the case of fiction is defined by intelligence being inherent to the work. It appears to be of no use to be intelligent about fiction that is not considered “intelligent” since, as there is no intelligence inherent in the work, there is nothing to be intelligent about. This is patently ridiculous, of course.

It follows, then, that you’re left with little recourse in this kind of environment: 1) and 2) above are literally all you have to work with for most of the time, and most of what you like. Simple enjoyment becomes an impossibility, and you must continually justify what you like (and what you do not like) along one of the three options given above.

Like most things pertaining to fiction these days for me, there’s a G.K. Chesterton quote for this: “It is ludicrous to suppose that the more sceptical we are the more we see good in everything. It is clear that the more we are certain what good is, the more we shall see good in everything.” (read the whole essay/chapter/conclusion, it’s my personal pick-me-up). In other words, it’s what I’ve always believed: the surest sign of maturity is being able to see the world as a child again. Adolescence has a disturbing tendency to kill off curiosity and wonder.

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October 30, 2009

relentlessflame on Guilty Pleasures

Original Post: Anime is Serious Business Because Guilt is Serious Business

relentlessflame

Submitted on 2009/10/29 at 3:03am

This topic comes up from time-to-time (moreso recently?), and I’ve given a great deal of thought over the years. My conclusion basically boils down to the following:

1. Sturgeon’s Revelation applies to a work’s objective qualities.

2. One’s personal enjoyment is not merely a function of a show’s objective qualities.

3. Personal enjoyment is ultimately more important than objective goodness.

(And there are few conclusions that you could draw from this, the pointlessness of the “guilty pleasure” concept being one of them.)

The most common cause for arguments tends to be tenet 2 above because people struggle with the dichotomy between their enjoyment and a show’s objective traits. People who like a show sometimes struggle to deal with its objective flaws, or sometimes disagree with the importance/value of said flaws; sort of an “I enjoy it, therefore it can’t be bad” opinion, in violation of tenet 2. People who dislike a show sometimes struggle to consider the way their own personal biases or feelings impact their “objectivity”, and tend to assume that their lack of enjoyment is *simply* or *entirely* due to “obvious” (or objective) problems, *also* in violation of tenet 2.

There is a small grain of truth to the “you’re watching it wrong” argument, but only in the distant and abstract sense that a different person could watch the same material and have a different opinion or level of enjoyment. “You’re watching it wrong” is accusatory nonsense (and argumentative rhetoric), but “you’re seeing it from a different perspective” is a fairly self-evident truth. When two people watch the same show and come to opposite opinions, it is *not necessarily* the result of ignorance or a lack of critical thinking (important!); two reasonable people can have different opinions about the same subject and both be right in some cases and senses. This is the central point of tenet 2.

So, all that said, when you come to the point where you realize that you have your own reasons for liking the shows that you like, and it ultimately doesn’t matter whether those reasons are common or unique, then you can see the concept of “guilty pleasure” for what it is: an excuse or rationalization. And further, when people can get over their constant need to “excuse” or “rationalize” their like or dislike of a show, I would suggest that it will probably lead to greater personal enjoyment (see Tenet 3). The most important thing, it seems to me, is understanding why you like or dislike what you do so that you can find more spend more time on the things you like, and less on the things you don’t. That’s all operating under the premise that enjoying anime and manga is more important than simply being able to argue about it, but I don’t necessarily pretend that’s the case for everyone.

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October 27, 2009

Deckard and ghostlightning on Fanservice and Letter Bee

Original Post: Loving Someone Down: Letter Bee (04)

Deckard

2009/10/27 at 12:53pm

Seem that among many fans and blogers exists a tendency to call “fanservice” anything that involves exposed flesh, sexual innuendos, etc. Given that when applied to serious (i.e. not Needless type) show “fanservice” has a negative connotation, the audience’s approach becomes “Guilty until Proven innocent”. This puts before the director/writer a dilemma: to limit one’s storytelling and narrative elements to those that will not be labelled fanservice or to suffer the accusations. Self-imposing limitations surely can’t consistently produce a better story than is possible without the restrictions. Of course, Bakemonogatari is a brilliant example of (hypothetical) third choice, but one has to wonder if the success of Bakemonogatari was achieved through design or luck. I personally wish for it to be design.
Of course, there is also, as maAkusutipen guessed, the desire to sell DVDs. However, if that is the intention of the director/writer than one is justified in criticising and disliking fanservice in the same way one can criticise the shallowness of soft cover romance/fantasy/crime/etc novels. These type of fanservice has its place (Needless), but mixing Dostoevsky with Sidney Sheldon is like mixing all the fruits and vegetables in the kitchen in hope that the result would be good since the ingredients are good individually: you may be lucky, but no more than once.

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ghostlightning (in response)

2009/10/27 at 1:46pm

Good stuff.

As I mentioned to maAkusutipen, it might be helpful to do some genre-based analysis. I’ve only hinted on it there, but I think it’s good to try to get into the bones of it here.

While I can’t say that Dostoevsky (who I love btw) didn’t attempt to be a popular novelist by including tropes and devices that appeal to his contemporary readers (Shakespeare was more blatantly service-y, being generous with innuendo and ribaldry) for the purposes of this comment I will assume that he was aiming for posterity above all things, the kind of timelessness liberal humanist critics love.

Let us assume Dostoevsky never existed. A ‘trashy’ novel writer (those with Fabio covers) can, while risking commercial success, write a Brothers Karamazov of a romance novel… with Grushenka as the lead, torn between Vladimir and his father… while a incestuous homoeroticism simmers between Ivan and Alyosha. The prose is borderline purple at times, and the sexual content is gratuitous.

It won’t win prizes, but I daresay certain mature fans of the genre will be riveted… after all, ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ ended with a kiss between brothers…

Verily this particular novel would be well, The Brothers Karamazov of its genre: a fanservice delivery novel, that has uncommon wealth of material relative to its peers. Should anyone be bothered by the heaving chests, the heavy breathing, and the general lack of clothing in how both Vladamir and old Karamazov himself bare their souls to our Grushenka?

To a (small) degree this is how I feel about Fate stay/Night the visual novel (I’m in the middle of completing the Unlimited Blades Works route). It is an erotic game that has uncanny awesomeness in it.

But this example doesn’t really describe Letter Bee does it?

I sometimes suspect that both the panty shot obliquus and the mounted licking scene are wink wink nudge nudgeto older viewers who may not be interested by the (shonen) story alone, but can be persuaded by the charms of a loli furry and her cute little fang.

Further Reading (because I wrote a fakken editorial in this comment section wwwwww)

http://www.animenation.net/blog/2009/10/26/ask-john-why-do-americans-resent-fan-service/

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October 22, 2009

Animewriter on Kimi ni Todoke and the Seating Dynamics in Japanese Schools

Original Post: There’s Something Refreshing about Kimi ni Todoke

animewriter

October 22, 2009 at 6:29 pm

I think that Sawako’s not in denial about other peoples’ behavior towards her but I go more for “the self-defense” line of thought, because if Sawako really let how other people treat her become her reality than life would really suck. Sawako would have to give up the hope that when people get to know her better she can have friends and maybe a boyfriend, her future would look bleak and lonely.

I also have to say that you can’t underestimate the importance of the seating chart/seating arrangement in Japanese schools. A few years ago, I met a girl at college that spent her last five years of middle school and high school in the Japanese school system and she told me how big of a deal it was. She told me that because of the structure of the schools it was quite possible that you would have the same homeroom and homeroom teacher for all three years of high school, so she said that setting the seating chart was one of the most important social events of the year, and that most of the time it was left up to the class reps. She also said that the wheeling and dealing around this event was massive, you wanted to be next to your friends or others you want to become your friends, remember you might be spending the next three years next to those people.

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October 18, 2009

Mechafetish on Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Original post here: Oh Macross, It’s Just a Popular Song, of Course it Was a Love Song: Do You Remember Love?

mechafetish

October 17, 2009 at 11:17 am

Its interesting to remember that DYRL is actually a movie within the macross continuity. Hence, it is actually a work of fiction as compared to the reality that is the TV series. Whats interesting to note here:

The songs in the TV series (actual history) are all Minmay’s songs, composed by her or for her by other human beings.

On the other hand, in the fictional movie, DYRL is a song created by the mysterious progenitors of both humans and the zentreadi.

Songs in macross are merely representations of culture. In actual history, the zentreadi were defeated by/succumbed to human culture.

On the other hand, the deliberate inclusion of the detail of DYRL as a song belonging to the progenitors of both races changes a lot of things.

In actuality, the zentreadi accepted and tried to adapt to an alien culture that was, for all intents and purposes, anathema to their own.

On the other hand, DYRL posits the zentreadi acceptance of culture “remembering love” as a reclamation of their own lost heritage. The zentreadi are no longer discovering a new way of life, but are rather REdiscovering a way of life lost to them since time immemorial.

As such, it may be interesting to think of DYRL as a form of propaganda to ease the cultural tensions that were prevalent on post war earth and to stem the zentreadi rejection of human culture as alien to them.

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October 12, 2009

Deckard on the Peter Principle Among the Letter Bees

Original Post: The (Male) Fantasy in Letter Bee (02)

Deckard

October 12, 2009 at 8:30 am

I don’t think Peter’s Principle is as sound as you make it because in the form quoted it doesn’t mention underlying assumption. These are very strong thus severely limiting to Principles generality. In particular, if the Bees organisation is sufficiently small and narrow in duties, the Head Bee may well be the most capable practitioner.

Almost universally, within an organisation different levels of responsibility require different number of staff. In mail delivery, there is only on CEO and numerous postmen; think about this as a pyramid with CEO being the top (narrowest) and postmen bottom (widest).
Let’s assume, for simplicity, that there is only one skill relevant to all positions within the organisation (ability to deliver mail) and progressively higher positions require more of that skill. Now start filling the pyramid with members of the organisation. You will begin at the base of the pyramid filling it with the least capable people and progress towards the top where the most capable will be placed as CEO.

Note that if someone within the organisation cannot be promoted while he is competent than the Principle is violated since it requires that “members are promoted so long as they work competently”. If the Principle holds for the organisation, then person just below the CEO (arguably, so must be CEO) is incompetent. Furthermore, because none of the people just below the him can be promoted (there is no empty space above them in the pyramid), these people are incompetent by virtue reaching their promotion ceiling; etc until everyone within the organisation is declared incompetent so long as we believe that Peter’s Principle applies to the organisation. The absurdity implied by the Principle should be obvious.

What this principle relies one is that people become incompetent sooner than they reach promotion ceiling. Note that the principle as quoted by ghostlightning specifies “Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent” implying the that competence is a 0 or 1 (i.e. binary) variable. Thus, the Principle does not talk about degree of incompetence, but about incompetence vs. competence.

An important note to the above argument is what exactly is competence. Because in the Principle competence is binary variable, the definition has to reflect that. One definition is that at each level a certain – limited – amount of skill is required and person is considered competent if his amount of skill is higher than the limit of the position. Of course, this definition further undermines the Principle since it imposes another very strong assumption: CEO has less skill than is required by his position.

In case of the Bees organisation, it is difficult to claim that it is a meritocratic fantasy because we (at least I am) unaware of the size of the organisation and its structure. If it is sufficiently small in size and narrow in its duties than the most capable practitioner may well be the CEO. Note that example ghostlighting gave (Ghibli, Ganinax) are all very narrow is tasks they perform and small in size. Furthermore, Bees organisation is not necessarily build along patriarchal lines because it relies on the strength of heart, not physical strength.

I hope i didn’t mess up somewhere; though I probably did.

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October 10, 2009

Kadian1364 on Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Original Post: Harsh! Consuming Media Not Related to Our Interests

kadian1364

October 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm

[…]

For years I had heard the stories that older generation anime fans told concerning the franchise, regaling tales of Robotech, Carl “The Butcher” Macek, and of course, DYRL. My first proper introduction to the Macross-verse was ‘08 anime Macross Frontier (aside from an ill-conceived foray into Macross Zero and some random episodes of the original Macross Cartoon Network once showed). Yet I never put much thought into finding the movie (It’s so old! I told myself), and it was only through sheer chance and dumb luck did I stumble across the torrent when I was browsing my usual BT sites (thanks Live-eviL!). I decided, what the heck, let’s give it a shot.

So I watched it. When it finished, I stopped, breathed slowly, took some moments in silent contemplation to collect my thoughts, got myself a tall glass of water, and then watched it again. And again the next night.

I used to think, That’s such a strange name, “Do You Remember Love”. A pop idol singing a song to end a war? Only in anime. Yet after a span of 2 hours, it was all made clear to me. I finally understood the meaning of its title. “Do You Remember Love” is a love letter to the dreamers, a gift to those who love epic stories, gorgeous and detailed animation, and beautiful, moving music. The guys at Anime World Order podcast once said that DYRL embodied everything they loved about anime, and even though we were separated in watching the movie by decades, and our experiences wildly different and years apart, somehow, I felt the same.

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