Author Archives: bitmap

About bitmap

Eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist, good dentist too.

Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 3

The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away.

Another week, another episode of Mysterious Girlfriend X! I’ve been voicing my thoughts on the pacing of the adaptation, and this week, we finally got to see how they would fit multiple chapters into one episode. (The contents of episode 3 are taken from chapters 3 and 4 of the original.) I thought it was handled pretty well; the two halves felt distinct, and yet were tied together nicely by the idea of what really “connects” Akira to Mikoto.

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Filed under Episodics, Mysterious Girlfriend X

Hanko-e Philosophy in Animation: Shining Hearts and the Uncanny Valley

Character designs by Tony Taka for Shining Hearts (2010, Sega).

“My eyes have been trained to examine faces and not their trimmings.”
– Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

I’ve discussed it before, but let us once again touch upon the topic of hanko-e. Literally meaning “stamp picture,” hanko-e is a style of character design in which all of the (usually female) faces have the same design, often to the point where characters remain distinguishable only by their hairstyles and other peripheral features. This is such a common practice for visual novels (especially eroge) that fans have even wryly designated a “Big Four” of hanko-e designers: Naru Nanao, Aoi Nishimata, Bekkankou, and Kazue Yamamoto. And of course, there are many more such artists, including Tony Taka, a prolific eroge character designer who has also worked on more mainstream works, such as Shining Hearts, as seen above.

So what happens when you apply this hanko-e philosophy to animation?

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Filed under Editorials, Modern Visual Culture, Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan

Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 2

Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?

It’s the weekend, and you know what that means: more mysterious goodness! This week, we finally learn the significance of those scissors tucked under Mikoto’s skirt, and get an eyeful of fanservice along with it. All in all, episode 2 does a great job of establishing what I think will be important themes as the show progresses.

If anything, though, I’m a bit concerned about the pacing of the series. How much will they be able to cover in a single 13-episode cours? Episode 1 covered the double-length one-shot (chapter 0), and so I was expecting episode 2 to cover roughly two episodes’ worth of material. However, the anime has been top-notch so far, so I’m not too worried.

That aside, let’s move on to this week’s topics:

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Filed under Episodics, Mysterious Girlfriend X

Mysterious Girlfriend X Episode 1

In this world there's nothing I would rather do, 'cause I'm happy just to dance with you.

I quite honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from the anime adaptation of Mysterious Girlfriend X (Nazo no Kanojo X), even though I had read the original manga. Just what do you get when you combine a studio that’s only produced shows about breasts, a director that’s only worked on kids’ shows (this season, he’s also helming Space Brothers), and a lead actress who’s only acted in live-action works, all working on a show about, of all things, tasting drool?

Fortunately, the answer is a show that surprisingly has a lot to say! So strap in, boys and girls, it’s time to get mysterious! (Episode spoilers after the break.)

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Filed under Episodics, Mysterious Girlfriend X

Denpa bigaku riron: the Rise of the “Radio” Aesthetic in Japanese Subculture in the 21st Century

how denpa do you even have to be to read the alt text


A self-proclaimed sociologist with no academic background in the field of sociology, bitmap has nonetheless published dozens of posts on modern Japanese pop culture over the Internet, and has been described as “an unconquered genius” by his peers. His works focus on the realities and fantasies of modern otaku culture, often centered around what he deems the “Anglo-anisphere,” and the resultant, delicate interculture.

What follows is a cursory introduction to the Japanese concept of denpa, in which a theoretical historical framework under which the “denpa aesthetic” developed over time is established and explored briefly.

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Filed under Editorials, Modern Visual Culture

Spirit of Okinawa: Asobi ni Iku yo! and Ryukyuan Folklore

How familiar is the modern foreign anime fan with Japan as a place? From the bustling streets of the mecca of moé, Akihabara, to the temples of historical Kyoto, some parts of Japan are well-trodden backdrops. Watch enough anime, and a viewer will have no trouble recognizing the sight of… well, the Tokyo Big Sight, or the familiar red torii that mark the entrances of shrines across Japan. However, there are many parts of Japan that fall into the fringe, and subsequently get little coverage in popular media.

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Filed under Asobi ni Iku yo!, Editorials