Let's talk anime.

@ccesarano re: deconstruction https://www.animefeminist.com/discou...

Great article!

I liked Madoka, but I didn't like Rebellion, and I didn't like Yuki Yuna either. Many of the shows supposedly inspired by Madoka do seem a lot like torture porn, and I did not like them for that reason. The thing I liked in Madoka was that it ultimately was a show that was all about defeating evil and creating hope and dreams when it seemed impossible.

That was a fascinating read.

Reading that, it feels like Madoka Magica is doing in Magical Girl anime what happened when Evangelion hit the scene. A lot of superficial imitation without understanding what was going on.

I don't necessarily agree with the read they have of Madoka Magica, or the perceived intent of the creators, but just reading some of the basic descriptions of these other shows has me feeling like they're not making good use of the genre. Of course, I can only wonder if some of that is because of differences in culture, but some of my knowledge on Japanese culture is outdated so I'm afraid to make any assumptions in that regard. Even so, a Magical Girl anime focused on what happens after an equivalent of Sailor Moon is in her mid-40's and doesn't have the strength she once had could be fascinating. Yeah, sure, you can introduce some grim elements – imagine if the strongest fighter on the team that seemed to have infinite endurance died in such a tragic and meaningless fashion as getting struck by a drunk driver – but these are taking elements of actual adulthood and life and introducing them into the fantasy.

That's why I don't think of Madoka Magica as a magical girl anime. Aside from removing the power fantasy from the equation, it's also in many ways about the loss of innocence. And here I'll use spoiler-tags just in case.

Spoiler:

I wasn't able to make as many observations as this was my first viewing, but my brother noted that the house and school are filled with glass walls. Just about everything is out in the open and visible. Once you begin leaving these locations, however, the world becomes filled with walls and shadow.

If we assume Madoka Magica is partially about the loss of innocence while growing up, then we see two of the central locations of a child's life are the most transparent, and thus also the most comfortable. There's no mystery in the home or school. Everything is as it seems. But once you get into the outside world, once you begin to leave it, the world becomes much more uncertain.

There are other ways scenery is played with. After Sayaka makes her wish, the young man's hospital room begins to have features reminiscent of what has been shown of a Witch's labyrinth. We can already see her fate being foreshadowed. So what might seem like reading too much into things can be countered that the creators are clearly paying a lot of attention to how they represent the world. That Sayaka's labyrinth contains an auditorium and focuses on music also heavily implies that each Witch's labyrinth in some way ties into their wish, or at least their personality and, perhaps, their regrets.

Towards the end of the series, after Sayaka's body is discovered, Madoka's mother and teacher are having a drink and speaking with one another. Each of them are feeling a sense of loss not just of the student, but of the transparency of the children. These children, by growing up, are now taking part in activities beyond the eyes of the adults that had once guarded and overseen them. Good God, the second the mom began saying she used to know what was on Madoka's mind, I was immediately thinking of my sister, her daughter, and their growing struggles as my niece approaches her teens.

I also think there's a very clear difference between the images these girls show and what they feel deep inside. Homura, Mami, and Kyoko all hide a softness within. Homura and Kyoko have been hardened by past experiences, and Mami tries to put up a cool front despite the overwhelming sadness in her heart. That, in one of the timelines, she immediately decides on a suicide pact once they discover the truth of Witches is not just for shock value. It's completely in-line with a character that wants to hold onto that innocence as desperately as possible, and thus when that innocence can no longer be sustained she shatters hardest. Homura and Kyoko accepted that loss of innocence, but it made them jaded or otherwise hardened. Sayaka couldn't survive the loss of innocence without falling into despair.

Madoka is the only one that could maintain a good spirit, though it took self-sacrifice. However, that's also where the Buddhism comes in. I believe it's a Bodhisattva that my brother said she essentially ascends to, leading the other Magical Girls "to Nirvana".

But all of that is what makes Madoka Magica great. Yes, it puts a bunch of young girls through the ringer, but there's all these onion-like ogre-like layers to it with a purpose, be it about growing up or Buddhist philosophy.

What does "Magical Girls, but Battle Royale" do? I already read Battle Royale. Attaching it to an even more innocent genre of characters just sounds like Saw.

Maybe I'll need to wait until someone is inspired to make something interesting rather than just imitate the superficially dark elements of Madoka Magica. Or I could just try watching Sailor Moon Crystal and such. Regardless, it's not like I'm lacking in stuff to watch, so we'll see what mood strikes me.

Thanks for sharing that article. It also has me wondering if I even want to bother with Rebellion, as it certainly sounds rather disappointing.

I liked Rebellion for what it was. The motivations for the ending don't come totally out of left field as the author states. It did seem to end rather quickly, but that might be related to it being a movie rather than a series.

Switching gears to the article, I do agree that the grim dark magical girl genre is overplayed. However, I'm not sure that they shouldn't exist or that they're necessarily bad (if as isolated pieces). There seems to be little distinction between personal taste and the effect of an overplayed gimmick.

Subverting elements in magical girl series isn't new, either. Rayearth subverts a lot of major ones. In Rayearth, the magical girls are playing a losing, running battle against an overwhelmingly powerful foe and almost everytime they win, they destroy something. In the end, they kill the pillar of the world. Because that's why they were summoned in the first place. They're the bad guys. Sort of.

Huh, I never considered RayEarth magical girl either since it's an isekai like Fushigi Yuugi and Escaflowne. That makes sense as well, though.

Has anyone watched Gantz-O? It's an enjoyable action movie, but I read the manga. I'm not sure how this will play for people who haven't ever watched/read this series.

Also watched Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Good animation, but mediocre in pretty much everything else.

Devilman Crybaby is another story. So good. This doesn't pull any punches and that ending shot reminded me so much of End of Evangelion, but done much, much better. I found out later that Devilman was the inspiration for a whole bunch of series.

slazev wrote:

Also watched Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Good animation, but mediocre in pretty much everything else.

I watched this series twice now and actually gained more appreciation for it the second time. What the Hell is it that I'm seeing that no one else sees, or vice versa?

I wonder if more episodes might have helped it, since everything from the reveal of the primary antagonist onward moves at a pretty break-neck pace and thus gives the ending a sort of rushed feel. Maybe a bit more time to breath would have helped.

I liked Kabaneri but because of the action and animation.

I watched a few eps of B:The beginning on Netflix and it seems pretty interesting.

AARRRRRGGGHHH, I just wrote a really long post about The Great Passage and lost it all because for some reason I got logged out in the middle of writing it. Here we go again, this infernal forum software will not stand in the way of me expressing my THOUGHTS because boy do I have some.

I have, I think, two episodes of this show left now, and while I am still thoroughly pleased a show with a premise this niche could exist (one of the things I try to emphasize when explaining the differences between anime and Western animation to the uninitiated), I am pretty perplexed and more than a little disappointed.

Spoiler:

A 13-year timeskip right in the middle of the series? I don't know if this is faithful to the source material but in an anime adaption this short it simply doesn't work. All of the character relationships and plotlines are completely short-circuited.

Majime had just barely gotten to the point where he could actually speak to Kaguya, and they've been on one impromptu sort-of "date." BOOM, 13 years later they're married. It's not that I object to them ending up together, the show did enough to make them seem right for each other, but we don't get to see their relationship develop at all past its beginnings, and Kaguya doesn't get developed as a character in her own right really at all.

Daitokai has been saved from cancellation, but Nishioka is being exiled to the PR department for his maneuverings to save the project and it's anyone's guess whether the dictionary team can survive so short-handed, especially when Nishioka and Majime had only just started to really function well as a team and with the publisher throwing other random projects at them to make them earn their keep. Well, I guess it all worked out OK because 13 years later Daitokai is almost done, even if it did take over a decade.

Nishioka himself looks to be undergoing some personal growth, as meeting Majime seems to be making him question what his life's passion is and make him take the dictionary project more seriously right when he's going to have to transfer. Also, he and his girlfriend are hiding their relationship for some reason, apparently because she already works in the PR section and offices romances are more outright frowned upon in Japanese business culture rather than just being considered risky like they are in the West? Eh, I guess they worked it out somehow because after the time skip they're married too, although that doesn't stop Nishioka from shamelessly flirting with the dictionary section's new employee and he seems to still be working in PR. The thing is I really liked how their easy-going vibe with each other was a great contrast to Majime's terrified fumbling courtship of Kaguya; but if the show isn't going to take time to fully cook the romance between its leads I suppose it's too much to expect anything more with what TVTropes would call the "beta couple."

Speaking of the new dictionary department employee, Kishibe, introducing her after the time skip makes it feel almost like the series is starting over again, with Kishibe as the audience's POV surrogate: a fish-out-of-water suddenly introduced to the strange world of dictionary-making. But we've already been introduced to it! They could have used Kishibe in an interesting way if, say, she and Majime had both joined the dictionary department at the same time at the start of the series, and we got to see their contrasting experiences. Majime was bad at his old job but was born to make dictionaries. Kishibe feels like she got transferred to the dictionary department as a punishment but eventually finds joy in her work. But bringing her in now doesn't add anything to the series or show us anything we didn't already know. We already know Majime is eccentric and bad at expressing himself. We already know making a dictionary is a uniquely laborious process.

I find myself struggling to determine what this series is actually supposed to be about. I don't mean the premise, because that of course could be stated in a sentence or two. What I mean is that the show isn't really about the development of the characters and their relationships, because we don't get to see it happen beyond its beginning stages, and everybody acts the same after the timeskip as they did before. And you can't really say it's about the process of making a dictionary the way, say, Shirobako gives us a pretty thorough look at all of the steps involved in making an anime, because we don't really get to see what the team has actually been doing for 13 fricking years.

I'll still definitely finish out the series, and I'm glad I discovered it. I'll probably check out the English translation of the source novel at some point and see if it's more developed. And this is kind of embarrassing to admit, but watching it has made me want to buy a dictionary - I realized to my surprise that I've gotten to used to using the internet and smartphone apps when I need to look up a word that I don't actually own a physical dictionary of any kind. But in the end I don't think I'll be able to recommend The Great Passage to anybody who wasn't a born sucker for the premise like me (IE a bookworm and word-lover). There just isn't more than a desultory hand-wave at real character development or plot structure, there is no satisfaction at seeing how the characters overcome their personal or professional problems, and that's going to leave most viewers who weren't already willing to give the series the benefit of the doubt for being so charmingly niche unsatisfied.

A second viewing may help with some of your concerns re: what is this about, as sometimes knowing the end goal makes it easier to see all the steps taken to reach that point as opposed to when you're first guessing and contemplating. I do think you should watch the final two episodes before you make a final judgment call, but the key thing to remember is that the show's really not a romance. It just happens to feature romance in it. If anything, it's a show about life and legacy, but rather than explore it through typical familiar relationships or somesuch it is through kindred spirits. One could also say it's about discovering who you are or what's your calling. Or maybe both!

I was startled by the time-skip myself, but in the end I think it was a good decision. Perhaps it's more that the character growth and development is handled in an unorthodox way compared to what we anticipate, where the romance is a central plot pillar and it needs to jump through several hoops. Given that The Great Passage is, in may ways, about life as a whole, it doesn't need to go through all those hoops. You can intuit the boring/mundane in-betweens to experience the new major events (which, let's face it, once both romance relationships begin, they are probably gonna be pretty mundane just like any other).

karmajay wrote:

I watched a few eps of B:The beginning on Netflix and it seems pretty interesting.

I binged through it this weekend and I thought it was pretty good.

Ending spoilers:

Spoiler:

I really enjoyed the fact that they initially introduced this totally stereotypical Anime Big Bad (the hero's evil brother, with the same power as him only using the opposite eye, *yawn*), only to subvert it later on by revealing that he's actually just a deluded Reggie with one of Koku's eyes transplanted into him. It was a nice twist.

Good news for me!
Interviews with Monster Girls has been confirmed for Season 2!
October 2018.

Now I just want a second season of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid confirmed.

We've got another season of Food Wars on the way, and the anime for Piano No Mori, too. April's starting look sort of awesome.

momgamer wrote:

We've got another season of Food Wars on the way, and the anime for Piano No Mori, too. April's starting look sort of awesome.

I thought it was the continuation of season three for Food Wars? Then again, with that much of a break I guess it may as well be a new season.

Meanwhile my brother and I began both the Lodoss War TV series and I've started The Slayers and I feel like I gotta have a conversation with Tanglebones soon about these things.

ccesarano wrote:

... I've started The Slayers and I feel like I gotta have a conversation with Tanglebones soon about these things.

As in the OG Slayers? I _love_ Slayers, but it's a really rough show to go back to, especially the early seasons. The frame jitter alone in the first season is enough to make my eyes twitch until I get re-acclimated to it.

It actually makes me a bit nostalgic. I only had the first four or so episodes way back in the day, so I got to see the first story arc for the first time and have moved onto the second. I imagine some of the humor will not have aged well, but I've been having a blast.

So Right Stuf Anime has my eternal loyalty now for sending me a hand-written, personalized card in the mail.

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DYLR3OzX0AApknN.jpg)

This was a complete and total surprise. I dropped a bunch of cash on volumes 4 and 5 because I didn't want to chance any other volumes aside from 3 going out of print. I spent more than I would have liked, but I've seen enough shows vanish into the void of licensing Hell than to chance one of my favorite recent shows blinking away. I hadn't ordered anything since. Suddenly, a card appears for no reason.

I'm now going to join their Got Anime Savings Club and use them as my primary source of anime and the occasional manga. 10% isn't much, but for $18 a year it's effectively like grabbing the Best Buy Gamer's Club.

So, yeah. That happened.

Netflix has been putting out a lot of really solid anime lately.

Violet Evergarden continues to be really good.

AICO Incarnation was pretty decent, and surprisingly heartwarming for a show where people get killed by giant body horror flesh blobs.

I also just started watching Children of the Whales, which seems pretty good so far. The setting is interesting, with weird island-boat-things floating around on an ocean of sand.

muttonchop wrote:

Violet Evergarden continues to be really good.

I also just started watching Children of the Whales, which seems pretty good so far. The setting is interesting, with weird island-boat-things floating around on an ocean of sand.

I think Violet Evergarden might be the best show of the season. It's certainly been the most powerful, particularly with the last few episodes.

Children of the Whales had a pretty incredible setting, but I feel like it didn't resonate well with me. I just didn't feel very invested with the characters and I felt the story went a little too strange. But that's just my unsubstantiated opinion. Plenty of people thought it was excellent.

I'd also like to point out Crunchyroll has been producing some incredible series too. They have helped produce shows like: Junji Ito "Collection", Kemono Friends, Kiznaiver, Magical Girl Raising Project, and Space Patrol Luluco.

Hey guys, I don't typically venture into this thread so excuse the off-topic question.

Mecha anime. I love robots and kaiju and all that good stuff. I'm not particularly well versed in it, but I just like big robots ok.

Aside from Evangelion, the first season of Robotech, and a sprinkle of Gundam I have no idea what's out there and what's worth watching. I tried Gurran Lagan, but I wasn't a fan (it felt a bit too silly for my tastes). Is there anything new out? Any classics I NEED to watch? Preferably short series or movies, nothing with 30+ eps.

(Sneaky edit: These Super Robot Taisen games look rad as hell. Bonus points if the anime is included in those games, I'd like to play them one day and know the references!)

Sounds like you want to watch Combattler, Mazinger, and Grandizer.

Knights of Sidonia on Netflix?

As you're in Australia I'm not sure where to even begin with recommendations because who knows what's up with regional licensing. Nadesico might make for silly mecha anime that's more your speed since it's not as outlandish as Gurren Lagaan. If you can find it, Patlabor is evidently a good series.

Hrm.

Y'know, for as much as I love Mechs I haven't seen enough Mecha anime myself.

Just recommend anime, JustWatch.com has an Australian search if they really need it.

I'm not a huge mega fan myself, but I enjoyed Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. It seemed self contained to me.

A_Unicycle wrote:

Hey guys, I don't typically venture into this thread so excuse the off-topic question.

Mecha anime. I love robots and kaiju and all that good stuff. I'm not particularly well versed in it, but I just like big robots ok.

Aside from Evangelion, the first season of Robotech, and a sprinkle of Gundam I have no idea what's out there and what's worth watching. I tried Gurran Lagan, but I wasn't a fan (it felt a bit too silly for my tastes). Is there anything new out? Any classics I NEED to watch? Preferably short series or movies, nothing with 30+ eps.

(Sneaky edit: These Super Robot Taisen games look rad as hell. Bonus points if the anime is included in those games, I'd like to play them one day and know the references!)

The graphics are a bit dated but I would like to recommend

1. Vandread. It runs 2 seasons.
2. Gatekeeper also has mecha but only on the second half of the season. The 2nd season has no mecha involved if i remembered correctly and is considerably darker then the 1st season;
3. Full Metal Panic! has 3 seasons but I consider the second season as an offshoot. And best off all, there will be a new season out this April (hopefully) after a 13 year hiatus;

For more current mecha series, you could try

1. last season's Knights & Magic;
2. Gargantia on the Verdous Planet;
3. Heavy Object (not sure if it meets your definition of mecha though).

Giant robots, you say?

We dig giant robots!

It looks like it's all available on YouTube.

Don't forget the Brave series. It has shared creative genes with the later G1 Transformers series (Headmasters, Masterforce, etc). GaoGaiGar is my favorite super robot show of all time.

During my first anime phase in high school/college I was a big fan of Nadesico, and Full Metal Panic (although I think the first season is the only one I saw or the only one that existed at the time).

It doesn't have much (ok, any) actual giant robot combat action until the climax, but Robotics;Notes is about (among other things) a high school club who are fans of a show-within-the-show giant robot anime and try to build a full-scale replica of the hero mecha. It's based on a visual novel from 5pb, the same company behind Steins;Gate and Chaos;Head and is loosely part of the same universe (multiverse?) as them. It's one of my favorite series I've watched in the past couple years.

I guess In This Corner of the World is on Netflix now. I bought the Blu-ray awhile back. Wonderful film, so be sure to check it out.