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.
Tag Archives: fanart
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.
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita is many things: incisive commentary on otaku culture, intensely strange, and funny as hell. It’s also more than that if we take time to look at it as a serious piece of genre fiction.
To grasp what is going on beneath the satire, we’ll have to arm ourselves with some terminology and concepts. The first one is singularity, which has a general meaning of a period of explosive increase in knowledge and technology. Our species has had a few minor singularities in its history: development of agriculture, invention of writing, widespread use of the printing press and the sizable one we’re now in presaged by the birth of the internet.
However, the usage we are interested in is the Singularity as a discrete event of which there are a number of variants. Intentionally-designed intelligences that bootstrap themselves to greater-than-human intellect, spontaneously-emergent entities arising from the network and more than human capacity created by the ever more intimate interfacing of man and machine.
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?
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.
One night, bored and trawling the web for reading material, I landed a seinen romantic comedy that promised the addition of laser-beam-firing alien antics. A recently completed four volume series, so far 13 scanlated chapters of Ashita Dorobou exist in English. While those chapters deliver on the promised romantic shenanigans and alien antics, it is the relationship between the protagonist and his ex-girlfriend that sparked my curiousity, for in the very first chapter I noticed the resemblance to that newly-coined romantic trope, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Continue reading
“You don’t need your shy and introverted self anymore?“
“That’s not true. For me to truly be myself, I will need a bit of my shy and introverted self. That’s why I love my shy and introverted self.”
– a conversation between Tsubomi Hanasaki (Cure Blossom) and her alter ego, Heartcatch Precure, Episode 38
How much do you really know about yourself? Besides the basics: height, weight, the fact that you are addicted to coffee and irrationally afraid of tornadoes, it’s frightening to delve into your own mind. In spite of the fact that you, above all, are expected to know the motivations behind your own actions, you may find that the person you’ve come to know and understand the least is yourself.
Perhaps this is why we are endlessly presented with the idea that in order to grow, one must “know thyself.” This idea is expanded on, and exploited, by many mediums, anime being no exclusion. Most recently, the anime adaptation of Persona 4 touches on Jungian psychology; the idea that we project personas, or idealized versions of ourselves, when interacting socially, along with battling a shadow self, where all of our negative or social unacceptable thoughts are collected. Our true self is a meeting in the middle, or a combination of the two.
What Heartcatch Precure offers is Persona 4 lite, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful, or intelligent.
Or: Better Understanding Through Looking at Gender
I got into a conversation in another part of the anisphere about female main characters. The blog post was here and it compared Tohru of Fruits Basket to Sawako Kuronuma of Kimi ni Todoke (the inferior Sawako, if you ask me… Sawa-chan <3). At the culmination of the comments dialog I came to some interesting realizations about gender performance in our animated heroines and heroes. See, we talk a lot about the need for “strong, female characters”, but as Kate Beaton noted, they don’t always serve. I would like to take this time, instead, to proffer up an examination of how a close look at gender helps flesh out both simple, straightforward characters and more complex ones.