Tag Archives: Otaku

Summer Anime 2013 Season Update: Or, Decisions.

9 Jul

By: Stephanie Weirich

Howdy y’all!

As you have probably noticed already, the new anime season has started (OMGYAYAYAYAYAY!!!11!!) and you may have thought “Hey, I liked reading those Anime Tantrum posts about that sex pervert show last season.  I wonder if she’ll do that again this season?”.  Well, you bet your ass I am going to do that again!  The question is what am I going to write about?  For that, I don’t yet have an answer, but the season is still young and there are still shows yet to air.  I can tell you what I have watched so far though, so let’s damn do that!

Blood Lad

He's a lad?  With the blood and stuff?

He’s a lad? With the blood and stuff?

This was the first show of the new season that I watched.  Again, I haven’t read the manga for this one but I’m a sucker for shows with a supernatural bent so vampires and demon worlds is right up my alley.  The basic story is that the Blood Lad in question is Staz, a vampire boss in a demon world who has his own territory and gang but who happens to be a big ol’ sloppy Otaku.  He’s obsessed with Japanese culture and the Japanese in general (duh) and dreams of going to the human world to collect more toys and Otaku ephemera.  Then a Japanese girl happens to stumble into the demon world, dies, and then resurrects as a ghost.  Now Staz has to find a way to bring her back to life.  Hijinks ensue.

First question: Did I like it?  I did.  It has some moments where I actually guffawed (Staz’s brief rant about the Final Fantasy series brought the lolz) and for me, it’s always interesting to see what happens when the Japanese comment upon one of their biggest and yet most misunderstood subcultures, i.e. Otakudom.

Second Question: What is the likelihood I will end up writing about it?  Not very high as of now.  It’s an enjoyable show for sure, and I will probably end up watching it casually, but as of yet it’s not one that I feel like I can dig into fully.

Dog & Scissors

I don't know if I can convey more about this series than this picture already has

I don’t know if I can convey more about this series than this picture already has

This was the second show I watched, just to keep up the general silliness feeling that Blood Lad had going for it.  And while the general premise for this show is rather silly, one of the more impressive parts is that it doesn’t play it as a full on farce.  This show is about a boy, Kazuhito, who loves books.  He loves books like WHOA.  Books are the sole reason he has stayed in Tokyo (moving to the country with his family would delay his access to new books, duh).  His favorite author is Akiyama Shinobu and he has, rather misguidedly, that he cannot die until he reads Shinobu’s most anticipated book which is a conclusion to a much beloved series.  I say he’s misguided in this effort because once that’s been said, you know he’s not long for this world.  And what do you know!  He ends up getting shot in the face with a shotgun in a cafe while protecting an insane woman who will not stop writing in her journal during a robbery.  He is then reincarnated as a dog, who is then purchased by the woman who he was protecting.  And she can read his thoughts.  And also, she’s Akiyama Shinobu.  DUN DUN DUN.  Oh, and she loves to chase him with scissors and tie him up.  O_O

First Question: Did I like it?  I….I don’t even know.  The premise is strange, and I’m sure ripe for hijinks and comedic moments, but the pacing is odd as is the tone at certain moments.  I mean, the scene where Kazuhito is killed is played really straight.  Like, shit gets real dark real fast.  And while I appreciate that it’s not going full blown farcical, I don’t know if the show can successfully NOT be entirely farcical with that kind of premise.  All in all, it’s rather uneven and I found myself making this face through much of it: O___O

Second Question: What is the likelihood I will end up writing about it? Slim to none, I’d say.  I’m going to give it another episode or two, but as it is now, I don’t really know how I feel about it and whether or not I would enjoy spending some seriously in depth time with it each week.  But we’ll see what happens.

Uchouten Kazoku

Quick!  Find the huge Tanuki balls!

Quick! Find the huge Tanuki balls!

Uchouten Kazoku, or The Eccentric Family as it’s being called stateside, is based on a light novel series by Tomihiko Morimi who also wrote the novel that Tatami Galaxy was based on.  It is about Tanuki and Tengu co-existing with humanity in modern day Kyoto.  The Tanuki can shapeshift into human form and Yasaburo, our protagonist, loves going about his day as a human school girl.  He has also vowed to live an interesting life, and thus every move he makes is in service to that ideal.  In this first episode, A LOT happens.  We get to meet quite a few characters and we see that they have highly complex and well worn relationships with each other.  There’s also a certain level of mythology and world building that’s taking place as well, which, you might not know this about me, but I LOVE DAT SHIT.

First Question: Did I like it? I sure did!  I am a very big fan of Japanese mythology and I have a deep and abiding love for Tanuki’s, so I was pretty biased towards this show from the get go.  The world also feels real and lived in.  No time was wasted on getting us into these characters and their lives, even if we don’t know all of the specifics of what we’re seeing and hearing about.  I like that.  It feels like the people behind the show have an innate respect for their viewer’s intelligence, which is a rarer and rarer phenomenon these days.  I plan to keep up with this one.

Second Question: What is the likelihood I will end up writing about it?  Pretty high.  Currently it’s the front runner.  My only concern is that there is SO much happening that really trying to break it down will take quite effort and intellectual prowess.  But I might be up for the challenge.

That’s what I’ve got so far.  The next shows that I’m going to check out are Monogatari Series Second Season (Which is quite the alliterative mouthful), WATAMOTE! and Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu.  I am all of the excited about these three, so I may end up with another front runner by the end of it.

What are you guys watching?  What are you most excited for and what has disappointed you the most so far?  TELL ME.

Also, if there’s something you’d like to recommend to me, let me know!

Aku no Hana Episode 9: Where do the Outsiders go?

5 Jun

By: Stephanie Weirich

Well, I guess if you insist.

Well, I guess if you insist.

Hey there y’all! Welcome back to this week’s re-cap/ramblings about Aku no Hana. I’m going to try to keep this focused, but I’m not going to lie, I’m still reeling from this week’s of Game of Thrones (Catelyn Stark, you are the smartest Stark, just a bit late with the realizations and the whatnot) and the fact that season 5 of my beloved Venture Brothers began. All in all, this leads to a rather unproductive week. But you don’t care about that! It’s time to talk about our favorite deviants!

I can actually smell the angst emanating from my screen.

I can actually smell the angst emanating from my screen.

So first, the recap: We pick up directly where we left off, with Saeki telling Kasuga that she knows what he did to the classroom and her gym clothes and that she doesn’t want to break up with him…. Which is unexpected.

........... um.  Ok?  I guess?

……….. um. Ok? I guess?

Then there is moping by Kasuga because Saeki won’t hate him, even though he’s done such terrible things. He then ditches school the next day, prompting Saeki to confront Nakamura about whether or not she knew of Kasuga’s misdeeds. And Nakamura is all LOLZ, DUH, I TOTES DID, and Saeki is aghast (especially when Nakamura happily tells her that she did her the favor of telling Kasuga about how much Saeki wants to fuck).

Seems reasonable to me.

Seems reasonable to me.

Nakamura also tells Saeki about the contract she has made with Kasuga, and this, rather than making her angry or uncomfortable, instead makes her jealous. This leads to Saeki turning up at Kasuga’s house to talk to him. He refuses to see her. She then runs outside and puts that fucker ON BLAST by shouting an entire monologue to him about how she doesn’t understand him, but that she was touched by him stealing her gym clothes and that she wants him to tell her all about his deviancy instead of Nakamura (and at this point I’m all like O_O, because I can’t even).

ROMANCE

ROMANCE

She then runs away and leaves Kasuga to deal with the consequences of her airing his misdeeds to his entire neighborhood. His mother then rushes upstairs with his ink stained clothes in hand, because yeah, she now knows what he did. Kasuga bolts, has some inner dialogue about how he has no place to belong to in this shitty town, no place to go, that he’s so alone, and he then stumbles upon Nakamura (who looks genuinely lovely before she opens her mouth to berate him, as per usual).

I was actually startled by how lovely she looked.

I was actually startled by how lovely she looked.

Kasuga tells Nakamura what’s been going on, and she tells him to take her beyond the mountain of their town. He asks if she’ll stay with him, and she says that she’ll never let him leave her because she’s going to keep him like a shitty doll.

So... Like a half chewed Barbie your sister leaves lying around on the bathroom floor?

So… Like a half chewed Barbie your sister leaves lying around on the bathroom floor?

The episode ends with Saeki seeing Kasuga’s mother searching frantically for him and realizing that that miiiiiiiiggggghhhhhhttttt be her fault.

Also, Nakamura tells Kasuga his mother looks like an idiot. Because she is a charmer at all times.

ROMANCE

ROMANCE

So what are we getting out of this episode? First, it’s nice that Kasuga is realizing that the one person that should matter the most and who quite possibly understands him better than anyone else, is the one that has been there from the beginning: Nakamura. Kasuga’s run through the town, lamenting his lack of a place to belong, which culminates in his discovery of Nakamura waiting for him, is a very nice visual metaphor for this. Kasuga needs Nakamura, and he’s slowly starting to realize it.

Can you hear the opening notes of "Eye of the Tiger"?

Can you hear the opening notes of “Eye of the Tiger”?

Why?  Because he needs her to break out of himself. He wants so desperately to be different, to be an individual. He is continually pushing against the notion of what it is to be “Japanese”, and he clearly doesn’t want to be all that that entails, and yet, he doesn’t know how to push himself past that. He has been living that reality for so long it has completely informed his public behavior. Prior to stealing Saeki’s gym clothes, his opposition to the town and society he lives in has all been internal. There has been no outward show of his desire to be his own man. And thus, he needs Nakamura because she long ago gave up on being “Japanese”. She is who she is. She is an individual. And she wants Kasuga to be one as well. She’s there to tear all of his walls down, because she long ago demolished her own.

This again brings us to one of the core points of Aku no Hana, which is that Japan has no real place for the outsiders to go. You fall in line, or you find yourself beaten down.  As much as we Western anime and manga fans love to refer to ourselves as Otaku, this can be a highly derogatory term within Japan and it’s because of the connotations.  If you are an Otaku, you are an obsessive, you have a singular passion that interferes with your outward appearance and goes well beyond the bounds of Japanese decency.  If you are a true Otaku in Japan, you are an outsider and if you can’t keep that unacceptable passion relegated to your honne, or true self, than you’re asking to be ostracized.  While Kasuga is not an Otaku per se, I think that this gives some context to the feeling of not belonging that Kasuga feels.  And thus,  Aku no Hana begs the question of how do you subvert long held societal conventions of being and behavior? How do you find your own way? What does it mean to be yourself in Japan? Do you tamp it down and let it fester until it bursts of its own accord? Or do you just let everything hang out, societal rules be damned? Or is there a middle ground?

Well?

Well?

Ultimately, I think that each main character exemplifies one of these concepts. Kasuga has been in hiding, Nakamura gives no fucks, and Saeki is trying desperately to strike a balance between the two. Now Kasuga has to make a decision about what sort of life he wants to live and who he wants to be. The easiest choice would be to disengage from either and keep his head in the sand. Whether he has the courage and the mettle to choose either of the other two options remains to be seen.

Besides this basic quandary, there are some other larger themes that are starting to emerge as the show hurtles towards its conclusion, but I kind of want to wait on that until the end so that I can be sure. At that point, I’d like to write a conclusion piece about the ultimate meaning(s) being put forth. It’s easy to pull out the minor points each week, but really, I think there are some other, grander statements being made that are only becoming apparent as they develop organically. So there’s something to look forward to!

That’s all for this week folks. Let me know in the comments what path you think Kasuga should take (I am team Nakamura FOREVER), or just say hey. You know, whatever blows your hair back. Until next time guys, always remember to destroy the evidence of your classroom destruction lest your mother finds out and feels a shame that burns her very soul!

And you'll end up someone's shitty doll.

And you’ll end up someone’s shitty doll.