A Defense of Academia: Why Reading Matters

Over the past year I have, out of instinctive habit, established a status quo of researching any idea I have a concern about. Every great essayist, past and present, has taught me that your own ideas aren’t enough to persuade people towards your opinion. Processing the efforts of others, in agreement and disagreement and neutral puzzling-out, is what elevates a discussion from casual to critical. Criticism basks in the glow of research, and better critics are almost inevitably marked by how much more they have read, and how much better they approach their studies. It’s a profession like any other – the harder you work, the more credit you deserve.

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About those Impressions

If you’ve been following this blog, you’d have probably notice that I’m behind on weekly Impressions. Close to two weeks behind now.

While previous and similar lapses have been due to illness, the problem I’m facing this week, after promising to catch up in the most recent Impressions post, isn’t that I’m ill. It’s not that I lack the motivation to blog or watch anime either; in a couple of days I cranked out a 5000 word article on my issues with The Mary Sue’s approach to anime. That was last week, and it got me thinking: I want to do more of that.

And that got me thinking about how little value I feel is in these weekly Impressions posts.

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Fanservice, Feminism and What’s Really Being Objectified

The Mary Sue has written on fanservice in anime for the second time. ‘In anime’ might be a stretch however. The blog isn’t inclined to treat any subject they comment on with any sensitivity to the work as a whole. They splice out bits that seem to prove their points and ignore anything that could define it differently. So I want to make a counter-claim. In their most recent article, celebrating ‘sexiness’ that isn’t objectification, I don’t believe the writer is aware of what objectification really is in feminist terminology. I don’t believe the writer represents the interests of feminists at all.

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Impressions! Summer 2016, Week Four

Still a week and a bit behind. Still fighting off some illnesses. Not suffering as much as Subaru still is, though…

Orange

Seeing Kakeru be slowly drawn away from the group by Ueda was uncomfortable to watch. But Naho made herself worse off by only worrying about herself. The letter guiding her to fix her regrets may seem focused on her, but ultimately it has its attention on Kakeru, and caring for him. Naho assumes Kakeru’s actions coincide with his thoughts. But of course he still wants to talk to her. It’s just as hard for him as it is for her.

Ueda’s row with him in the corridor could be criticized as a heavy-handed way of confirming how bad a girlfriend she is, but te caricature of a personality she has contrasts so well against the subtle, flowing characters that make up the main cast. She feels like an outsider, not only because she’s from Tokyo. An outsider to the narrative itself. And now Naho has helped remove her from this story.

Our main couple become closer after having been pulled apart. The romance swells, and I’m only getting more enthralled in it. Great stuff.

Re:Zero

Subaru continues to only value himself, and pays the biggest price for it yet. Though Rem sacrifices herself so he can escape the White Whale, he only wants to go back for her, because he doesn’t believe in her strength. Only his own. But the driver is right: the greatest powers of Re:Zero’s world make everyone else look weak in some way.

As Subaru believes he can bargain with the force denying him honesty in some way, that force takes Emilia’s life instead of his own. He says he’s come to save her, but he remains to not care about her at all. Betelgeuse’s words really struck me as he saw her dead in his arms; rather than be the hero, it sounds like Subaru was brought into this world to serve the evil within it.

Subaru doesn’t want to die after he loses Rem, but he does once Emilia is slain. He remains pseudo-heroic: Emilia wouldn’t stand for the inequality in that attitude.

Mob Psycho 100

More wacko social commentary this week, and our first big development. Mob wants to be popular and belong at his school. Our dimpled cultist really wants the same. But Mob humbly lends his time to helps others get rid of the influence of spirits: this spirit forces its influence on others. And so Mob finds resolution in forcing his influence on him.

The idea of Mob burying his emotions clashes so well against the over-expressive fraudulence of his mentor and the over-expressive tenor of pretty much every other character around him. He has to disconnect from our world in order to fit into it; else he’d annihilate it. I love this constant conflict of Mob’s existence; it’s set a brilliant backdrop for every note of drama to follow.

Even though we have a percentage counter, there really is no telling how long it’ll be until the next ‘explosion’. Regardless, I can’t wait for it.

Amaama to Inazuma

These episodic cooking conflicts are great. This week: learning to like the things you hate. Vegetables. Ugh.

Every installment of this show gives us a new way to look at childhood through what’s now become the regular routine of communal cooking for our cast. It’s great to see Tsumugi’s dislike of vegetables immediately accepted as an obstacle to overcome; Amaama to Inazuma isn’t arguing against what’s been concluded as good parenting. It’s emphasizing our need, however, to be creative in our approach to those conclusions.

Tsumugi may have offloaded her green peppers onto her father, but it’s a far cry from crying at the taste of them. The little touch of defiance ironically brings her closer to her father, when her need to eat greens was beginning to draw her away from him. It plays out like Flying Witch did last season with the herbs Chinatsu at first couldn’t tolerate; though the examples of adults enjoying the natural things children are skeptical of, children can learn to love them too.

91 Days

An escape from the hubbub of the family feuds gives our two leads some time to understand each other. Their performance to the children carried a lot of meaning for me; while Nero has a go-getting spirit, Bruno succeeds before we realize he has, and uses Nero’s character to strengthen his own. He turns the tables of the act: I wonder if the wider plot will play out somewhat the same.

Overcoming the ‘Goliath’ was a great mini-thriller. Nero’s lack of Biblical knowledge, which he ties into not going to church, furthers the pseudo-religious slant of his actions. He has a devotional walk, but it’s not towards Christ. Though Bruno gets a further insight into how far his revenge will have to go, this episode also got me thinking about what exactly Bruno is living for, be it day to day, or fighting for his life. He may be an object of Bruno’s avenging, but he lives as a subject of his own motivations. Surely we’ll be seeing into him more and more as we move forward.

Short-Cuts:

  • Bananya. A filmsy friendship that’s torn down by crowdthink? This is getting all too real…

The Drop Zone

  • Kono Bijutsubu. Like New Game, while it’s a great CGDCT with some nuances, I’ve losing interest in blogging it. May still watch it irregularly anyway.

That’s all for this (belated) week. See you next time!

Why Genre Matters for ERASED: ‘Playing Detective’

If you’ve been following discussions over the quality of Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, or ‘ERASED’ for Western viewers, you’ll have surely come across the issue of whether or not it deserves the ‘mystery’ genre tag MAL and a number of other anime sites give it.

The camp that says it must be a mystery tends to just note that it has ‘a mystery’ and therefore must be of that genre – that genre being, more specifically, the ‘whodunnit’ genre where we expect to follow a detective as he slowly unravels a crime. The camp that disagrees tends to argue that the killer was supposed to be obvious, that Satoru ignores his expected role as a detective ad goes on a different path, and that’s what contributes to it being a drama-slash-thriller. But neither of these positions fully grasp what ERASED was setting out to do with its story. That being said, it didn’t do that particularly well either.

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Anime Authorship: All for One, not One for All

There is too much iconography being spread around for a select few names in the anime industry. It’s like people can’t see these names without slinging a bag of worries on their back before they watch, to burden the writer’s every chance of developing their story and their own image; a statuesque meta-narrative of their past work and what they think of it, claiming everything falls in line with it only because they make it fall in line. Continue reading →

Misundersandings of the Irrational Fortress

Of all the prejudices being thrown around this season, I’ve never been able to understand why many have rendered Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress as ‘dumb’. An easy criticism keeps coming up, that when we’ve got zombies and characters acting irrationally, we’re got a poorly-written show. Not only does this miss the point of how irrationality is used in fiction; it ignores the context of every ‘irrational’ event that happens. Foolishness is in fact a massive part of what makes Kabaneri such a potentially engaging show.

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Why I’m Not on MyAnimeList

On the front page of r/anime today, filling the slot of the subreddit’s Daily Salt Thread, is a discussion titled ‘What scores on your MAL would make /r/anime question your taste the most?‘. I could stop here and let that post speak for itself, for why I think MAL and the community it facilitates is what drags down the potential for good, interesting discussions about anime online. But I might as well blog about it too.

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