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Anime Editorials

The secret life of the otaku

(dengar is the newest addition to this blog, which brings our numbers up to 3 and closes May’s recruitment drive in fine fashion. He’s based in Boston (United States) and with Celeste in Vancouver (Canada) and myself in Cambridge (England,) we’re an international bunch, which is sure to prove interesting. Anyway, it’s now time to let the dust settle on this new format, so, please enjoy dengar’s first post, and, here’s the future! Thanks for sticking with us until now!)
How would you like to be thought of as a weird, socially inept person who has an unhealthy obsession with imaginary characters? While harsh, these unfortunate stereotypes of otaku are certainly widespread.  After hearing the same generalizations again and again we expect our friends and family to mischaracterize an otaku as someone obsessed with watching cartoons, playing dress-up, and reading comics. Understandably many anime fans choose to stay “in the closest,” and hide their interest.

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Anime Music

Walking Away

Something has always bothered me about the ending of Samurai Champloo. It was an ending that haunted me for nearly a year after finishing the series, its memory resurfacing every time I thought about it. Midicronica’s “San Francisco” was in many ways a fitting ending for an anime which drew so heavily from hip-hop and reggae culture, but there was somehow a disconnect. Samurai Champloo’s ending always struck me as unbearably happy, like the colors on the screen and the chords of the song were attempting to sweep something under the rug. As the anime ends, the journey is over, and its end is just like its beginning: three people, alone.

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Anime Music

Gren's eternal smile

If I had to condense my love for anime into one single moment, I’d choose the scene when `Space Lion` begins playing in the 13th episode of Cowboy Bebop (Jupiter Jazz.) It is one of the first times I can remember feeling a pang of bitter-sweetness whilst watching anime: the sadness of Gren’s passing tempered by Spike’s and Faye’s return to the Bebop; that Jet can’t really hide the fact that he truly gives a shit about them but, like a grumpy Dad, is too up-tight to admit it, and Gren’s death-wish to be cut adrift amongst the stars and sent drifting towards Titan. Alone.

“I see. You are Spike. Julia was always talking about you… That your two eyes were of different colours… That’s what she said… That you get a strange feeling when you look into his eyes.” — Gren

A strange romance springs forth from the snow-capped streets and cold, gray clouds, and from the elegant, softly-voiced Gren himself, an angelic hermaphrodite in love with Vicious, yet broken by the betrayal of their friendship. His sad, tired eyes and knowing smile are captured and carried beautifully by `Space Lion`’s warm tone of resignation. It’s a spine-tingling moment.

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Anime Editorials

The Transience of Anime

I often analyze myself in terms of what I’m watching and why I’m more attracted to certain anime over others. I find it easy to forget just how niche a lot of what I’m watching really is, only to then realise I don’t know what’s popular any more, or understand why, or even care. I’m sure I used to care, and that worries me, because I feel so out of step with other anime fans at the moment.

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Anime Editorials

Fast dialogue is fast for a reason

I’m a follower of people in the anime industry, but mostly, it’s just the (good) directors I like to keep tabs on. I delve into their works and the more I find, the more I trust in those same people to deliver yet more good anime. Hayao Miyazaki is a popular example, and Masaaki Yuasa is another. I have faith his talent and I’m happy to sit here, passively, and take whatever he throws at me, which is why I now find myself both fascinated and horrified by some of the reaction to the first episode of The Tatami Galaxy.

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Anime Editorials

Why you should care about The Tatami Galaxy

I’m totally hyped about seeing the first episode of The Tatami Galaxy (Yojohan Shinwa Taikei). It finally aired this evening in the beloved noitaminA block and is already streaming on Funimation‘s video site, but… I’m region blocked! It’s been a while since I’ve been excited enough about a series to feel as frustrated as this, but, alas, rather than implode, I’ve decided to start writing this post instead! (However, if you’re based in North America, you can stream The Tatami Galaxy for free, like, right now! You guys are so lucky!)

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Anime Editorials

Ugly anime is not bad anime

People regularly whine about “ugly” anime, complaining that if a series is ugly, then it’s not worth watching. Natsume Ono‘s style is the finest modern example. Her latest work can be seen in the new House of Five Leaves (which began only last week on noitaminA,) but you may also know her as the creator of Ristorante Paradiso.
Her trademark, polarising style lays in her character design: big, round eyes; wide, thin mouths; pointy noses; they inspire a certain sense of revulsion (with their ‘shark’ eyes and rubbery facial expressions) and would never be considered attractive in the conventional sense, but then, that’s the point; Ono is doing it on purpose, therefore, complaining that her characters are ugly is like complaining that the sky is blue; it’s just her style, so why get so hung up on it? At least it’s trying to set itself apart from the rest (originality.)

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Anime Reviews

Sora no Woto: apocalypse moé

I’m not an admirer of the moé aesthetic, so my initial response to Sora no Woto was one of indifference; just more moé, I thought; not interested. That’s always my default reaction to a series like this, but the thing is, life’s not that simple.

Genre is a superficial excuse; no single story is the same as another, and despite my misgivings, Sora no Woto was beginning to look more and more interesting with each passing week. Well, inevitably, last night I caved and watched its first three episodes.

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Anime Editorials

The weight of time in anime and manga

Kamina and Simon from Gurren Lagann; no idea who drew this, sorry!

I consume a lot of anime in a purely superficial way; I watch it and enjoy it, but then forget about it. My favourites are those that burrow deeply into the subconscious, with certain moments and images able to rise back into mind at any given time; often, years after I’ve seen them, but why? Why is it that these particular stories have captured my heart and not others?

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Anime Reviews

Azure paler than the sky

Jury's duel

Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of the most inscrutable anime I’ve seen. It’s like half of me is struggling to keep up with what I’m seeing, while the other, at some base level, just instinctively feels it and understands. I suppose you could call this confusion. Or schizophrenia. Whatever. Episode 29 is my favourite of the series so far, and definitely the one that best represents what I love about it.
Jury is on the brink of defeating Utena in their duel, all she need do is finish her opponent and be done with it, but she gives up instead; the sky grays, the rain falls and the match is over, but why? Why, having fought so hard, did she just give up?
Utena is all about this kind of theatrical epiphany, a duel of adolescence where every emotional facade is shattered, emotive in the way that the landscape shifts with mood, attaching life-changing significance to every word spoken and movement made. It’s apocalyptic romance.
For a while I tried to write an interpretation of Jury’s duel, but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do anymore. It’s like trying to put into words a beautiful painting, words just don’t capture it. Utena remains as inscrutable as ever, but it feels special. You just have to see it. That’s the best I can do.