We occupy a rather unique niche on this world in that we’re the only ones blessed with the capability of pondering our own finitude. It grants us the perspective of reckoning with our mortality, a bitter balm for the weight of knowledge.
Author Archives: Vucub Caquix
When we’re presented the same story in different contexts, we’re made privy to different things. Our perception of stories is at the mercy of the medium, the storyteller, the point of view, or the order in which it’s seen. Many variables affect presentation, which in effect alter the outcome of what we receive. Puella Magi Madoka Magica the television series was ostensibly about magical girls engaging the forces of evil through the use of powers acquired in a magical contract. The first Puella Magi Madoka Magica movie, while containing the same characters and housing the same plot as the first eight episodes of the television series, is more specifically a classic Greek Tragedy borrowing freely from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.
It is the story of the inevitable downfall of Sayaka Miki.
And just like that, in walked trouble. “Vuc, I need a favor.”
Day is not the type of dame one can refuse so easily. She’s more of a self-contained force of nature barreling down wherever she pleases. Knowing this, I set my rather significant textbook down and try to proceed as cautiously as possible. “I don’t know if I can help you, but I can sure listen to you.”
“Something’s happening. I can’t go into details, but I need you to tail someone for me.”
I didn’t like the sound of that at all.
“The thing is, I came across a tidbit and I need you to help me out. I had a few others on this, but honestly they weren’t able to make any sense out of it. You see this girl, Horizon? She’s in the middle of something big.”
Every move you make is carefully planned. You are limited in your capability, your capacity, your reach. To reach beyond what is allotted to you is met with struggle, strain, and pain. You cannot be frivolous in your actions, for each moment is carefully meted out as though you’re incapable of the responsibility yourself.
How would this color your outlook on life?
Hyouka follows Oreki Houtarou as he enters high school wishing to expend as little energy as possible despite his intelligence and deductive capacity. Of course if he were successful, we wouldn’t have much of a story; so we follow along as curiosity incarnate Chitanda Eru enlists his aid in helping her remember why an old story from her uncle left her in tears. To solve this becomes one the Classics Club’s raisons d’être, as we have Fukube Satoshi and Ibara Mayaka round out their quartet.
The answer lies in the name of the club’s anthology itself, the Hyouka, and why asking her uncle what the name meant left Chitanda in tears.
xxxHolic is a difficult series. The manga has a convoluted continuity tied up in several different franchises. The anime adaptation is easier to follow, but has its own hurdles with the extremely stylized designs animated on a modest budget. Truth told, I procrastinated on this series when I’d seen the roughness of the animation coupled with the relatively comedic tone of the first few minutes of the first episode. It wore through slapstick and familiar Japanese comedy routines, setting up certain expectations as I watched. I let my preconceptions doubt the story. I was wrong.
Wait! What’s this?! What do we have here? Chiaki! What are you doing? What’s with the get-up? Were you… posing?
I wasn’t the only one laughing was I? What made it funny? Well, I can’t quite answer that, but it’s obvious that we were meant to make the comparison between Chiaki and Marika in the regalia. With that in mind, I think it’s important to note that that was the underlying theme of this week’s episode.
I had difficulty with last week’s episode. Nothing difficult in enjoying it, but rather in knowing what to write about. That episode marked the official entrance of Princess Gruier Serenity (Gruelle? Gruyère?) and thus the transitioning of the plot from mostly introduction and characterization, to that of the beginnings of galactic political intrigue. It’s nothing that I wasn’t invested in, but what I’m most grabbed by in episodic analysis is subtext.
The opening narrations for these episodes are important. They bring the audience up to speed while simultaneously fleshing out more of the world and speaking to the themes of the forthcoming episode. The tone of this week’s introduction had me confused for a while. It took a much more bombastic approach than what we’ve seen prior, speaking to a bold and assertive Marika that’s perhaps a bit too enthusiastic about her role. I had it down as an allusion to a style of introduction long past that I had not seen and accepted it for that. It wasn’t until the end card had been revealed, which echoed a line that Misa Grandwood had given, that I had finally understood what this week was meditating on:
The dangers of pride, and hubris.
A curious thing happens when you’re in outer space, when the context of terra firma is taken from you. You realize that phrases like “left” and “right” are suddenly a lot less valuable than they once were, as the meanings ascribed to them conflict from person to person.
In space, there is no absolute direction.