As I reflect on how things have been going for the blog since November last year, I’m satisfied that I’ve been able to post something new most weeks. I feel like I’m into the routine of writing about anime again. The Winter season was good for me: from Dororo and The Promised Neverland through to Run with the Wind, it had a lot that I was able to empathise with and write about. I’m sure I can continue in this vein, but I’m thinking of changing tack instead.
I could end up watching a lot of anime come April.
Watching Dororo has helped me realise that Kazuhiro Furuhashi is one of my favourite anime directors. He is the man responsible for directing the breathtaking Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal (Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuioku-hen) which is a marked departure from Kenshin’s much lighter TV series and tonally has much more in common with Dororo. In short, both anime are grim as heck.
When Dororo begins, Hyakkimaru’s at his strongest. Without nerves, he cannot feel pain, and without pain, what is there for him to fear? He can jump higher and fall harder than any man because there are no bones in his legs to break.
In many shonen anime, characters like Naruto and Izuku begin at the other end of the scale. Weak and untrained, their stories are about developing strength, yet Hyakkimaru’s is about developing weakness. Isn’t that weird? For each demon he kills, another part of his body is returned, but with that there is a price to pay.
The new Mob Psycho 100 II trailer was released last week and I’m pumped! I admire its story but what’s really pushing me over the edge is the animation. It’s such a weird looking anime, heavily influenced by One’s manga, but brought to life by Bones in a rare and lavish attempt to go all out on a story that emphasises the rough and messy over the clean and consistent.
It’s easy at first. You just need to watch anime. That’s all it takes. For a few years, that’s all I did. I finished one anime and moved to the next. At some point though, things changed. I became curious and the sub-culture opened itself to me. Why anime? I don’t know. It’s been this way for a long time. I enjoy other hobbies, but anime, being an anime fan, is still important to me.
Earlier this week, Netflix announced that it will begin streaming Neon Genesis Evangelion in April 2019. The 1995 Evangelion TV series is not only one of the most popular anime ever made, it’s also one of the rarest to own on US/UK home video. Since 2005, for various reasons, it has seen neither a home video release nor a legal internet stream, meaning a whole generation of Western anime fans have grown up without (easily) being able to own a copy of the infamous mecha anime.
If the end goal is to win, how easy is it to enjoy doing a thing?
Be it playing table tennis, running in a marathon or just writing for your blog, we do things for complicated reasons that don’t always mean having fun.
In Run with the Wind, Kakeru is a talented runner and the best in his team, but whilst the others are happy just competing in a race, he’s gutted that he wasn’t able to win. So after the race when they are sitting around drinking and eating fried chicken, he’s breaking up inside, furious at himself for losing.
If he isn’t winning, then the whole race is tainted.
In the afterglow of last week’s Fruits Basket anime announcement, it dawned on me that 2019 is going to be a particularly exciting year for anime. Enthused, I dug a bit deeper into what 2019 has in store for us and, well, hold on to your hats!
A balloon is a fragile thing. When Riko releases her balloon into the sky at the end of Made in Abyss, we see it lift its tiny payload.
How can something so fragile and small make it all the way to the top, past all the dangerous creatures and sharp rocks?
A message in a bottle cast into a bottomless ocean.
Along the way, it’s snagged on a branch, but is somehow found, repaired by friends and sent back on its way. Still rising, still carrying its message. Step by step, progress. Through the clouds and giant bugs, it finally comes to a rest; at the top. Against the odds, the balloon made it, tattered and ripped, but made it nonetheless, conveying its message to Riko’s friends. It’s like a dream, something that should never be possible, only the faintest of hopes.
I am a dreamer, I think. There’s a lot I really like about Made in Abyss but when I was thinking about it last week, the first scene that I wanted to rewatch was the balloon scene. I can still feel my heart beating watching it. Going down into the abyss is a one-way deal, there’s no going back. In life, there’s no turning back either, things cannot be undone.
The passing of time is like entering the abyss, it changes us, for the bad and the good, it’s sometimes hard and painful, but for all that sense of insignificant struggle, we can make things, even great things, standing on the shoulders of our family, friends and colleagues. Those things can rise, too.