Colloquium: Kamisama no Memochou 1 part B

"Tarnish the living to maintain the honor of the dead. Tarnish the dead to comfort the living."

ajthfourth: It’s another lovely, if a bit muggy, evening.  A perfect time to wrap up our viewing of Kamisama no Memochou, which, despite an out-of-place fanservice moment, maintained its focus on how various people gather and process information in an age where information bombards our senses at a frenetic pace.

Immediately, the second half of this episode shifts gears from focusing on how the main characters, Alice and Narumi, parse the information that is provided to them, to the group as a whole, as well as the players within the mystery that Alice is determined to solve.  Not only does Alice have her room full of monitors, but she has a living group of people who act as an indispensable network of information gathering.  This contrast between what machines are capable of gathering and what live people are capable of gathering is touched upon while she dispenses her orders to the group, all involving using some sort of information network or technology.  However, it is pushed into the forefront with crystal clarity when Narumi dares to raise his hand.

"I was thinking maybe we don't have to do all this, and just talk to those two."

ajthefourth: Narumi’s suggestion is an obvious, but oft-overlooked one: why not just talk to the two people in question?  All too often, people turn to other forms of gathering information, whether it’s other people or digital media, instead of going directly to the source first.  This can lead to all sorts of confusion and incorrect facts or analysis; more side effects of information overload.  As it turns out, Narumi’s suggestion is a sound one, and points out why swallowing your fear of others, or your desire to fade into the background, and actually talking to people can gather far more information than reading text on a screen.  That being said, speaking with people face to face may provide more information, especially emotionally; however, it brings with it several new problems that don’t exist with digital information, the main one being honesty.  We see this exemplified in the character of Shoko, who was unable to “be herself” to any of the people she interacted with, choosing to separate herself and show different pieces to different people in her life.  Only by combining digital information with this emotional information that Narumi gathers is Alice able to see the entire picture and solve the mystery.  It’s also worth noting that she coaxes the last missing pieces of information from Miku in a face-to-face confrontation by distributing very specific facts to Miku in a deliberate manner.

vucubcaquix: I was very interested in the scene in which Narumi suggested to the group that perhaps just talking to the girl would yield the desired results. It was a welcome bit of levity through what were some fairly dour proceedings surrounding that exchange. I also found that it was a very interesting contrast to what Emily noted in the previous part of this episode in the last colloquium, about how the series contrasts Narumi and Alice and their respective places in society along with their supposed ability to contribute to solving of this particular case. What I took from it was that the series itself so far doesn’t seem to want to take a particular side in that issue, but rather paints a very even-handed portrait of it’s two protagonists and their abilities to contribute, which can potentially be extrapolated into a larger commentary on what an individual’s potential is despite whatever their station is.

However Emily, you bring up an incredibly interesting idea regarding Shoko’s inability to “be herself”, as a new social network has arisen that’s been all the rage amongst the blogosphere and the internet in general for it’s ability to allow you to sort and categorize your contacts and acquaintances into various “circles”. I’m fascinated by the idea-especially on the internet-of people assuming personas. That is, presenting a “best of” version of yourself that may not necessarily be the most honest one. This emerging network has done an incredibly good job of understanding this innately. We present ourselves differently to different people, because we are aware that we don’t interact with everyone else on an equal basis.

Another thing I noticed, is the prevalence of the color green in Alice’s room. Is there anything in particular that you feel is evoked by that? Our readers may not appreciate my linking to this site (for it’s strange ability to destroy a person’s time), but Cracked.com has taken note of this trend in a lot of Hollywood’s recent films and has described it as a visual shorthand for various emotions and ideas and equates it to a sort of laziness. I hope this isn’t talking above my own station, but I disagree a small bit with their assertion of it as laziness within the context of anime, since the medium itself is so heavily dependent on color theory and the foundation of everything we’re consuming (animation) are in fact moving illustrations that are colored from its inception. This just feels like the animation director is taking a bit of extra consideration to convey the sort of sci-fi vibe that one should feel while in Alice’s chamber, surrounded by technology, drowning in information.

ajthfourth: For all of its commentary regarding our ability or inability to deal with the massive quantity of information that is thrown in one’s way every day, Kami-sama no Memochou, in this premiere episode at least, is surprisingly keeping its opinions to itself in regards to whether the effects this has on people should be considered good or bad.  On one side, we have Narumi, who has seemingly been so overwhelmed by the constant barrage that it has affected his way of dealing with the world.  That is to say, because he is unable to process everything, he shuts himself down.  Thanks to Alice, who is trying her best to process as much information as possible in order to piece together mysteries, he is now beginning to show signs of awareness of his surroundings and the people that populate them.  Other bits of information that the viewing audience is given to piece together include the fact that Narumi, who up until this point in his life has contributed nothing to society, is a high school student which, although hardly exceptional, implies some sort of life plan or career path.  In contrast, Alice is a NEET; however, is also the far larger contributor of the two.  She takes action far quicker than Narumi does, and most importantly, unlike most anime portrayals of NEETs as unsociable and awkward hikkikomori, has a group of legitimate live friends with whom she is able to converse with easily.

These themes come with a fantastic soundtrack and some sharp visuals to immerse the viewer in the story.  Thus far, this episode has certainly piqued my interest, and I’m interested to see where it takes the themes it has introduced, specifically the ones dealing with information distribution, in the next few episodes.  Unfortunately, the second part of this episode did nothing to allay my fears regarding a few red flags that cropped up in Part A of this episode.  On that note, David, I believe you had something to say.

"Fujushima, you pervert!"

vucubcaquix: F— you J.C. Staff, was that really necessary? Other than that, good show (holy god that insert song starting at fifteen minutes in is AMAZING, dear lord). Are we going to be watching this, Emily?

ajthefourth: I suppose.  Its good parts far outweigh its bad.  See you next time?

vucubcaquix: It’s a date. Have a good night, Emily.

ajthefourth: Sounds fantastic.

7 Comments

Filed under Colloquia, Episodics, Kamisama no Memochou, Kamisama no Memochou

7 responses to “Colloquium: Kamisama no Memochou 1 part B

  1. Blackholeheart

    I’ll forgive the fanservice because giving JC Staff a grumpy loli heroine and a easily embarrassed male lead then asking them not to get her naked in front of him is like asking you to stop breathing, you’ll hold it a bit but sooner or later you will be gasping for air. Hopefully they will hold it when they must and the gasps will be tolerable.

    I think the take-away message is about balance, Alice and her NEET’s stand-in for otaku culture in that we are by and large obsessive and passionate. This a strength and a weakness. Whereas Narumi represents the outwardly social and well adjusted youths that never truly engage with anything. Separate both approaches will muddle through but together and in balance you get the essence of the very best of humanity, the stuff of heros.

    Great ideas and writing you two, looking forward to your thoughts on the episodes to come!

    • *Sigh* Sadly, it is true that J.C. Staff (formerly of such series as Revolutionary Girl Utena, Nodame Cantabile, and Honey and Clover) deems it necessary to insert loli fanservice into nearly every anime it produces nowadays to the point where it should be, and is, expected. It’s not that the fanservice offends me personally; the point that my partner and I would like to make is that it completely changes the tone of the series, if even for a second, to the point where it’s impossible to regain the mysterious and intimate atmosphere which made the first seven-eighths or so of this episode so successful. This is especially annoying in light of the fact that the series does have tasteful and relevant fanservice (for example: when Miku is pushed out of the window).

      Moving on, I love what you have to say about bringing the best and the worst of both social viewpoints together in order to form an even greater, and more interesting whole. Honestly, this hadn’t occurred to me while viewing, and now I find myself inspired to pay attention to this while watching future episodes.

      Thank you very much for the inspiration and the commentary!

  2. This is a good following to the first team post. Cheers!

    Going back on topic, I can clearly say the show presents an obvious contrast on how people handle information. On one side, you see the NEET detective team, acting in accordance to their knowledge in technology (Major and his forte when it comes to surveillance equipment is a good example). On another, you see people who handle information in the obvious and normal manner (Narumi’s suggestion about confronting Miku and Satoshi, and the 4th’s straightforward order of bringing Satoshi in for interrogation). Both sides have their pros and cons (technology doesn’t lie, but since it relies mostly on stored information, the possibility that the stored information may be false is also high, which using the normal approaches might compromise the integrity of information through lies and deception), and yet Alice was able to figure everything out, which is good for the case.

    I’d really like to see how this contrast plays out in the succeeding episode.

    • ajthefourth: I think the most important thing that the series accomplished in this first episode, in addition to laying the groundwork for these themes, is the fact that it takes neither side. Alice must rely on both to properly solve the mystery.

      “Technology doesn’t lie” is a fantastic way of putting things, for, while it’s true that the technology itself can’t lie, people certainly can. It’s very easy to use information or facts and twist them accordingly to make your own point valid. The trick is being able to sense where the spin ends and piece together the “raw” information to fit your own puzzle.

      vucubcaquix: Man, Shance, you have this crazy way of making really interesting points in a succinct way. I like the idea of technology being unable to lie because that implies that there’s no intentional malice in technology as an idea, as opposed to the comparable dirtiness of having to deal with the human element.

      But! What can be learned by dealing with people that you can’t get from raw technological data is *context*. People are a wealth of incidental information, none of it clear-cut and dry. We give away so much of ourselves through just ordinary actions that if you cut this part out of the equation then you do yourself a great disservice as a detective.

      Thanks for commenting, pal!

  3. Firstly, just wondered if anyone else noticed the resemblance between Narumi and Drrr!!’s Mikado? Not just in terms of physical appearance, but their musings and fears on being an inconsequential dot/ individual in a sea of information and people I found rather similar, despite the very different ways in which the two acted on such ideas, of course. For me, Narumi and Shoko were the most interesting figures in the show so far, and I guess Alice as well, based on further reflection having just read both of your reviews and your thoughts on her in particular.

    I mean, at the risk of stating the obvious, the first two seem like more realistic characters, whereas Alice is too much of a J.C. Staff poster girl. The fan service had been mentioned, but I must add that it, along with the other more subtle fetishization of the loli NEET detective overall, I feel detracts from the wider messages to do with our interaction with others and how (responsibly) we deal with all the forms of information that we are bombarded with these days. In short, not a bad mystery show, but one that would be a hell of a lot more interesting if it lost, or at least tones down the gimmicks (did we really need so many overreaction shots of Narumi, either?!) and focussed more on the substance of its messages.

    And finally, sorry it took so long, but thanks for the very enjoyable reads and congrats on the new partnership. ;)

    • Narumi and Mikado are a bit similar, though I feel that Mikado actually decides to take charge of his situation a bit more, or at the very least tries to do something on a whim, whereas Narumi (perhaps because he lacks an extroverted best friend like Masaomi) is dragged into things against his will. Then again, Ayaka could turn out to be that extroverted friend.

      There are a lot of other small similarities with Durarara!! that I noticed as well; the presentation of the city’s imagery, group cast, and background music, although I believe that it’s going to turn out to be much more of the Alice show than a group show.

      And yes, let’s talk about Alice. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of it that way; however, especially in this latter part of this two-part episode, she does come off as more of a cardboard cutout than an actual character. In the first part, she is introduced with some fantastic dialogue between her and Narumi, and her outlook on media consumption and information. In the second part, she solves the mystery; however, is also presented as more of a doll, and then gets a fanservice scene. My partner has also brought up the point that perhaps, since she was providing the exposition for the second half of the episode, this also makes her more of a narrator addressing the audience than a character one can relate to.

      Good points, all of them! Thanks for commenting.

  4. Pingback: NEETs in the Proto-Singularity: Kamisama no Memo-chou, Google and Cloud Transhumanity « 2-D Teleidoscope

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