Grace. いただきます. Bismillah. Cultures across the world have developed means to express gratitude for what they consume. This is possibly borne out of an innate quality, as recent studies suggest, that rituals before a meal may alter our perception of its taste. The idea of gratitude being expressed serves another ancillary function: it staves off the guilt of consumption.
In this season’s The Eccentric Family (Uchōten Kazoku | 有頂天家族), we follow a family of shape-shifting Japanese raccoon dogs. Yasaburō, the narrator and main character who poses as a young human, spends his days avoiding and cavorting and playing with Benten, the powerful and dangerous psychic woman seen in the image above. The dialogue between the two is brisk and spry, with a back and forth that moves at a nice clip. But none of that is remarkable on its face to me, until we understand that she ate the young raccoon dog’s father in a year-end ritual meal and that it is common knowledge in their community.
Something almost unbelievable happened last night. Trigger Inc. set up a campaign to crowdfund the next episode of their 2013 Anime Mirai title Little Witch Academia, and in less than five hours, they met their $150,000 goal and more.
Pixar’s poetry lies in the mixing of pain with sweetness. What I love about some of their films is that there’s a true sense of heartache that fuels them underneath the mirth. Across fourteen feature films there have been several narratives they’ve explored, occasionally more than once; love and loss, parenthood, religion, self-improvement. The theme that strikes me as the most inherently interesting—and the most unusually brave considering its status as children’s fare—is the ongoing musing of talent vs. mediocrity.
Throughout our lives we are constantly reinventing ourselves. It’s human nature to evaluate what works and adjust accordingly. This is no easy task, and we are all fallible creatures, so we make mistakes. This is the story of Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko, or HenNeko, and it is our story as well.
art by ajthefourth
“I don’t want to change. I want to change. We all hold in our hearts conflicting feelings, each back to back.”
-Dera Mochimazzi, Tamako Market, Episode 11
The lives of individuals are meaningless before the greater cause.
In the twenty-first episode of From the New World we are treated to the continuation of what is likely the series’ denouement. We are also informed of the central tenet of the queerat rebellion; a belief that not only motivates the queerats to take up arms against the human villages, but also the resolve to sacrifice both themselves and one another.
To paraphrase a queerat infantryman, they no longer wish to be ruled by tyrannic false gods.
Although bestowed with a god-like power, the humans of From the New World are most certainly not gods. To add to this, and whilst we do not know if they originally claimed godhood or not, we do know that they do not discourage the queerats in thinking them so. Ergo, we can comfortably agree with the charge of false godhood.
What then of the other charge, that of tyranny? Again, we find plentiful evidence that the humans are absolute rulers from a queerat perspective. The humans created and have since bred queerats; they use them for manual labour, they administer the lives and trials of the queerat populous, and they are happy to dispose of the occasional troublesome queerat colony, or indeed colonies, when deemed necessary.
Through modern eyes, tyranny is a bad thing – an outmoded form of governance to be eradicated at every opportunity. Should we, therefore, succumb to the very modern urge and support the queerat rebellion irrespective of how ominously it is painted by the series?
I would argue otherwise.
“Maybe it’s arrogant to talk of supporting Acchan, but I succeeded 0048’s captain, Takahashi Minami. So I decided that I had to change. I had to be strong enough to support Acchan. That’s what I thought.”
-Minami “Takamina” Takahashi the 5th, AKB0048 Episode 20
“When I made up my mind that leaving the home I had been born and raised in was inevitable, I was very sad and unhappy. But when I thought about what everyone there truly felt, it gave me pause. If I had been eliminated and disposed of by the village then, after much grief and tears, my parents would’ve eventually forgotten about me. Just as your parents eventually accepted the fate of your sister.”
-Maria Akizuki to Saki Watanabe, Shin Sekai Yori Episode 16
“Say it’s only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make believe
If you believed in me.”
-It’s Only a Paper Moon, Harold Arlen