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2:48 AM on 11.24.2013  

Fabulous Dressers: The Joestar Family



Fashion, Brittany? Come on! How am I supposed to write an overly long-winded, uninteresting post about that? Well, the long-winded part, anyway... I'm sure I can manage to still write something uninteresting. And it won't be about Type-Moon, either! Crazy, right? Although, I did consider writing about Gilgamesh...

Anyway, I had to wrack my brain for somebody I knew to be a FABULOUS dresser. Zero from Code Geass? Too obvious, and jumpsuits are... questionable. The cast of Star Driver? Too many sparkles. Also, that show was dumb. Golden Time? Already been done! Really, if you know me (and know what anime has been airing recently), you know there's only one person I could choose to be a fabulous dresser. Jojo!

But wait! Who's the only person more fabulous than Jojo? Jojo! And Jojo is more fabulous than her! And Jojo is more fabulous than him! And that's when I realized that I couldn't merely pick one scion of the Joestar line: I had to go with the entire damn family. Is that cheating? Probably! As a compromise (and because I'm laaaazy and haven't actually read all of the manga...) I'll only talk about a few of them. Obviously, beware of SPOILERS for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure!



We have to start with the man himself, Jonathan Joestar. He automatically gets bonus fabulous points for being the first Jojo and protagonist of the Phantom Blood arc, but hes already a classy 19th-century British gentleman. Hes got money coming out the ears, but hes still a humble archaeologist/rugby player/vampire hunter who fights for justice! That counts as fabulous, right?

Wait shit, the topic is Fabulous Dressers. Jonathan Joestar is so fabulous he can muscle his shirt to shreds? Okay, that doesnt really work. Is it my fault that Jonathan spends like half of his arc either without a shirt or with what can only barely be called a shirt? Surely something can be said for the fabulousness of the Kenshiro look, right? I mean, just look at him on the right-hand side there.



Wait! I got it! Jonathan Joestar is so fabulous that Dio Brando, his immortal vampire arch-nemesis (seen above on the left), decided to steal his body. Thats right folks, Jojo is so fabulous that the person who hates him most in the world cant help but go damn, look at those abs. And Dio clearly is no slouch in the fabulous department either; you know how those vampires are. This cannot be disputed: if even Dio Brando thinks Jonathan Joestar is fabulous, then you know he must be one damn fabulous gentleman.

And conveniently, this segues to the second Jojo I intend to feature in this post: Giorno Giovanna of Vento Aureo. And before you clever people get on the case of saying that his name doesnt shorten to JoJo, it does shorten to GioGio. If its good enough for Hirohiko Araki, its good enough for me. Giorno is the son of the aforementioned fabulous vampire, Dio Brando, making him fabulous by proxy. But wait, Dio stole Jonathans body, so whose son is Giorno actually? Both of them, I guess? Thats double fabulous.



I am loathe to admit that I havent actually read most of the Vento Aureo arc, but hey, just look at the dude. Hair donuts, cleavage window, ladybug motif! Hes clearly fabulous! Even his Stand is made of gold! Whats more fabulous than gold? Being a badass Mafia gangster, you say? Well Ive got news for you: Giorno is a member of the Passione group, a bunch of crazy Italian Mafia dudes who pretty much run Naples from behind the scenes. Women love bad boys, right? But I have it from an inside source that the only thing women love more than bad boys is bad boys who leave all or part of their chest/torso exposed. Giorno does precisely this! Fabulous!

You know who else wears a shirt far too small for their body most of the time? The last and best Jojo on our short list for today: the great Joseph Joestar! He doesnt leave quite as much skin exposed as Giorno, but skintight clothing is just as good, right? His arc, Battle Tendency, takes place in the 1930s, so Joseph doesnt have any of that old British stuffiness that his grandfather Jonathan did. Its Coca Cola, styled hair, and fancy clothes all the way for Joseph.



The most fabulous thing about Joseph Joestar, though... it's the fact that he can pull off any look he wants and still look good.

Ridin' with his posse? Fabulous.
Tie and dress shirt? Still fabulous.
Weird face mask and covered in oil? Fabulous!
Badass biker dude? Those sound effects are Japanese for "fabulous"!
Hot Mexican woman? THE FABULOUS-EST.

Even as an old man, well into the 1980s and the Stardust Crusaders arc, Joseph Joestar manages to look stylish. It's been said that the true measure of style isn't trendiness, but timelessness. Old Joseph takes this to heart, dressing in simple clothes that nevertheless make him look like a pretty cool dude. He's still fabulous, but in an older, more refined sense.



Even though the entire bloodline just reeks of fabulousness, if I had to pick only one single Joestar to truly highlight as a fabulous dresser, it would be Joseph. Fabulous without fault during his younger days, he stayed classy as he grew older. How many people besides Indiana Jones can rock a sweet fedora without looking like a total douchebag? Nobody, that's who. Well, almost nobody...

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3:22 PM on 01.12.2012  

Katawa Shoujo and Connections


(Spoilers for all routes ahead)

Katawa Shoujo came out a bit ago, and it’s a milestone for the internet, I think. Only in this day and age can people from all over the world collaborate on a project as massive and impressive as this, and five years of development was definitely worth the wait. It shows what people can accomplish if they work for it.

There’s the obvious idea throughout Katawa Shoujo that disabled people are just people – no more, no less. But in my experience playing the game from start to finish, the real theme isn’t just about seeing past their disabilities. It’s deeper than that.

Every route in the game, beyond the love story of each heroine, is all about understanding and connecting with others.

Every path deals with, if not necessarily helping the heroine out of their shell, then closing the gap between them and Hisao. None of the heroines really lets people get close to them, for various reasons, and this is what makes Katawa Shoujo most obviously and most poignantly a product of the internet society.

In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to connect with people, but it’s also easier than ever to keep everyone at arm’s length. Hiding behind a pseudonym, talking 140 characters at a time, using emoticons and jokes to mask actual opinions in fear of being ostracized – it’s what the internet does, really. It’s a brutal, brutal place at times, and it’s definitely easier to just clam up and deal with people at only a superficial level.

It’s kind of like the hedgehog’s dilemma, really. For those not in the know, the hedgehog’s dilemma is an analogy about people and relationships – hedgehogs have to huddle together to keep warm during cold weather and tough times, but they can’t get too close without harming each other with their quills. But humans aren’t hedgehogs, and we don’t rely solely on animal instinct – we are social creatures, and I think we’d all go crazy if we couldn’t form bonds with others.

The crux of every route is always about bridging the gap between Hisao and the heroine of the story. It’s more superficially obvious in some routes than others, but it’s always the main point in the end, one way or another.



Emi puts up a barrier of goodwill around herself – she keeps everyone at arm’s length, hides her problems behind a façade of energy and happiness. She speaks about how it’s pointless to talk about her troubles to anyone else – her life was stripped from her once in the car accident that took her legs and her father, and there’s no telling when it could happen again. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say. She admits that her previous boyfriend couldn’t handle the distance between them, and broke up with her, and she explodes at Hisao for trying to help her through her problems, thinking that they are hers and hers alone. The route is about helping her understand that it’s okay to rely on others.



Hanako’s route is similar – she lost her previous life in a house fire. She withdraws into herself, more obviously than any of the other heroines. She believes that her existence does nothing but make life more difficult for others, so it’s best to not make waves and not trust others. She holds resentment for the world because it has taught her that she would be better off not existing – the false care shown during her birthdays hits her especially hard - she feels she doesn't deserve the pity, and people don't want to give it, so why delude herself into thinking that it's justified?

She is angered by the pretenses her relationships with Lilly and Hisao are built on, and by the reason you probably played her route in the first place. She’s seen only as a fragile flower to shelter and protect, not as an actual person in and of herself. Refusing to understand her point of view and continuing to try and coddle her leads directly to her bad end.



Lilly’s route deals mostly with her mothering nature, and Hisao stumbles around her point of view. Hisao admires Lilly’s independence, and her care with others. She offers him the knowledge that he is not alone in dealing with his problems, but he still considers his troubles to be his own burden. By the ending, he realizes that she was doing the same with her own issues – because of her blindness and her family situation, Lilly constantly works herself to make sure she isn’t a burden to others, only a help. Hisao’s final attempt to close this distance between them and create a mutual bond of support forms the climactic scene of the route.



Shizune’s route makes the gap between them obvious from the get-go. A deaf-mute, Shizune can initially only connect with others through Misha – fittingly, Hisao’s first goal in the route is to learn sign language to communicate with her properly. She notes that she wants to make people happy, but that her force of personality just ends up pushing people away, making her unable to really have a true relationship with anyone. The drama in her path comes from her realizing this and how it causes her to treat the people closest to her.

Shizune’s father is shown as an example of refusal to understand others, and also stands as a clear reminder of exactly what demographic spawned Katawa Shoujo, as well as the one it’s aimed towards. A muscular man who carries a katana for no reason, his boisterous attitude and loud proclamations of his own virtues are reminiscent of a particular character from Gurren Lagann who seems to be idolized by the anime fandom. However, Shizune’s father is immediately shown as a rude and inconsiderate buffoon. He refuses to acknowledge Shizune’s circumstances, and makes no effort to understand either of his own children. The portrayal is a bit heavy-handed, but necessarily so.



Rin’s route tackles the issue of self-isolation and connection more deeply than any of the others, I think. The valley between Rin and Hisao makes up the entire story, as it explores Rin’s difficulties in expressing herself and Hisao’s inability to really understand the object of his affection. The only way Rin can express herself is through her artwork, but even through that people are unable to determine what she’s really feeling. She struggles with the idea that people want her to be something she’s not, and whether change is really the best answer when trying to bridge the gap between people.

---

In every single route, failure to understand the heroine’s point of view and picking the wrong choices, even with good intentions, leads to a bad end. Even more tellingly, in Act 1 of the game, if the player refuses to have Hisao open up to any of the heroines and begin the steps towards a connecting with others, he drinks himself stupid and ends up falling to his death.

Maybe you shouldn’t have pushed everyone away, eh? And maybe this’ll teach you a few things about real life.

Like I mentioned above, this concept of connecting with others - letting them understand you and you striving to understand them - is really what I think Katawa Shoujo is all about, and what makes it really something aimed towards this internet hive-mind. Have you seen all those reaction images online cut from 4chan, with these people being brought to tears and saying their lives have been changed and all that? Every route, every form of distance between people depicted in the game, is something that I think almost everyone can understand in some way.

We’re all people. Everyone suffers one way or another, and in some ways the veil of anonymity the internet provides has made it worse than ever before, making it harder to receive support from others. Katawa Shoujo is relatable on a level that most media simply isn’t, especially to those who spend their time on the internet talking to strangers, making sure not to get too close to anyone. It shows us that it’s okay to trust others, to let them into our world. Not just okay, in fact – it’s vital to being a human, I think.

And it gives us this lesson by showing us people with disabilities, with clear physical and mental gaps between them and others, ones that so many can’t simply look past to see the real person behind them - and by having us connect with them like with anyone else. That it isn't impossible, that's it's something we should strive for.



And, in my eyes, that’s pretty damn powerful.

Want to comment? Make sure to comment on the permanent link if you don't mind, to make sure the comments don't get split.

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6:08 PM on 05.29.2011  

The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer



If you're anything like me, then every so often when you've watched all the new anime for the week that you care to watch and don't have anything better to do, you poke through the lists to find some series you've never heard of, banking on the off chance you'll find a hidden gem under the piles of dirt and refuse.

Hoshi no Samidare (also known by the more memorable name, The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer) is that gem.

At first glance, Hoshi no Samidare seems like a typical shonen story: Amamiya Yuuhi wakes up to find a talking lizard on his bed, spewing some nonsense about a Princess, an evil Mage, and how it is Yuuhi's duty to fight alongside the other 11 Beast Knights to protect the very world from being destroyed. However, instead of jumping at the call like a normal hot-blooded protagonist might, his first action is to toss the creature out the window.


Zooooooom~

You see, Yuuhi wants nothing to do with any of it. As one might expect of a jaded, misanthropic, 18-year-old college student, he'd prefer to use his newfound psychic powers as the Lizard Knight to flip his teacher's skirt than battle for the fate of Earth. Saving the world? He'd rather watch it burn. On top of that, being suddenly attacked by one of the Mage's golems, saved by the super-strong Princess, and shown the gargantuan Biscuit Hammer floating in space waiting for the chance to crush the planet into pieces does little to encourage him to join the battle.

The Princess herself, however, does. She promises Yuuhi that she will never let the Biscuit Hammer fall and smash the earth, because if the planet is going to be destroyed by anything, it's going to be her own fists and nothing else. He immediately swears fealty to the devil of a girl, and so begins the battle to save the world only to destroy it.



The plot progression itself can be rather predictable, with about as many sharp turns as the first Star Wars movie. But what really makes the series memorable and entertaining are the characters and their interactions. Apart from Yuuhi and the Princess, there are 11 other Beast Knights, and that's not including other various side characters. It can get a bit overwhelming at first, when half the cast shows up within two or three chapters after the manga has spent time slowly introducing main characters, but each one is endearing in their own way and manages to make their mark upon the series.

Everyone has their favorite in the ensemble: my personal choice would be the Swordfish Knight, an older man sporting a trench coat, fedora, and kickin' moustache, while Gee-Man prefers the Dog Knight, a hot-blooded martial arts genius. They all have properly distinct personalities, and straightforward artwork helps carry that across - you can tell what characters are thinking and feel their emotion just by looking at their faces, and I don't mean that in a comedic-reaction-face way (though there's plenty of that as well).

Speaking of comedy, much of The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer's laughs come from the idea that the characters all seem to be somewhat aware of what kind of series they're in, which allows for some wink-wink-nudge-nudge jokes here and there. There's a bit of fanservice, mostly panty shots (seeing as the Princess does quite a bit of physical fighting), and the seemingly-required-for-every-anime-ever beach segment, but as a whole it's not really intrusive.



The series has finished its run at a total of 65 chapters, so you won't have to worry about intermittent updates or reading through a massive backlog like you might with other manga. All in all, it's a nicely subversive take on a fantastical saving-the-world story that avoids the pitfalls that you might expect from that sort of plot.

If you used to like shonen series but feel like you've outgrown them and are looking for something just a bit more mature, then you owe it to yourself to go and read The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer.

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6:46 PM on 11.18.2010  

Monthly Musing: What I'm Thankful For


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10:40 AM on 06.01.2010  

Monthly Musing: Doctor Up Some Anime (Manga): Bleach



Well, it's still May where I am, and Mandril and Dliessmgg were the only ones who participated. Let's not make them feel left out (even though I'm pulling a lot of this out of my ass since it's short notice).

Bleach is one of the "Big Three" of Weekly Jump, along with Naruto and One Piece. Because of this, most of you are likely pretty familiar with it already.

There are, of course, many other problems with the series apart from the three I'm listing (lack of backgrounds and shading, for instance), but these seem to be some of the more prevalent ones. Anyway, let's jump straight to the problems and their possible fixes, shall we?

For those not familiar, thar be spoilers.


#1: TOO MANY CHARACTERS
Diagnosis
Bleach has far too many characters. Apart from the main group of humans (already four or five), there are thirteen squads of allies, each squad with at least two named characters, and often more. There are ten ranked main bad guys, most of which who have at a number of subordinates, and that's not counting the various side characters who aren't necessarily part of any faction.

There are over 150 characters in this series. That picture up top doesn't even begin to cover it.

Symptoms
With so many characters, a good portion of which are explicitly more powerful than the protagonist himself, the focus ends up on them as opposed to the aforementioned protagonist. Fans end up liking all of them more than Ichigo, so what ends up happening is that Ichigo gets ridiculous power-ups out of nowhere to keep up at all, making the him even less likable.

Kubo has admitted in interviews that he creates new characters by the truckload to deal with writer's block. I guess he has writer's block pretty often.

Prescription
Kill off some of the characters, or at least move the focus back to those it should be on. Villains have died over the course of the series, but if I'm recalling correctly, not a single character on the hero's side has died outside of flashbacks. The fact that Orihime literally has the power to bring people back from the dead does not help with this.


#2: AIZEN


Diagnosis
Aizen is more or less the most powerful character in the series, owning multiple characters in one blow and infamously blocking the protagonist's attack with a single finger. He supposedly orchestrated every single event that has occurred, and in recent chapters he's been gaining new powers for no reason.

Symptoms
When a good portion of the aforementioned ~150 characters can't defeat a single person, you know you've got a problem. We have Deus Ex Machina up the wazoo on both sides of the fight, all to deal with this single character. Whenever something happens that might pose a threat to Aizen, he magically gets even more powerful. There isn't much else to say about this one.

Prescription
The damage has already been done here - the best way to fix this one is to kill off Aizen and move on with the plot. Assuming there would even be one.


#3: ASS PULLS

Diagnosis
A fair amount of what happens in this series comes completely out of left field. Ichigo in particular tends to gain new levels of power as the plot demands it (Plotkai!), and events in previous chapters are blatantly retconned.

Misdirection is presenting a deliberately false image and refuting it later - what Kubo does is present a true situation and then says "No, that's not what happened at all" a few chapters later.

Symptoms
Constant Deus Ex Machina equals bad writing - this is an unavoidable truth. The series has become a game of what ridiculous concept Kubo will come up with next to have characters win their next fight.

Prescription
Foreshadowing goes a long way here, and Kubo has shown that he can do it - for example, Hirako Shinji's first appearance has him perfectly writing his name backwards, and some 250 chapters later it turns out his power is to invert the perception of his opponents to confuse them.


There's a large amount of potential in this series, and its popularity despite its many problems reflects that - it's just that it could be so much better.


"SO THERE I WAS BEING KUBO, WHEN THE EDITORS CAME IN AND WERE LIKE "YOU NEED TO DO MORE THAN PANELS OF WHITE PILLARS AND BLACK BACKGROUNDS!" AND I WAS LIKE "FUCK YOU, I'M KUBO!" SO THEY WERE LIKE "WELL HOW ABOUT SOMEBODY DYING?" AND I WAS LIKE "FUCK YOU, I'M KUBO!" AND I MADE LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY. I LOVE MY LIFE."

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1:41 AM on 04.18.2010  

The Case for K-On!: Irothtin's Take



Since if I were just to write my thoughts out like I usually do, I'd be just retreading Ittoujuu's article, I'll see if I can go in order of the questions posed in the actual Monthly Musing prompt. We'll see if I end up retreading anyway or not.


K-On! - Great show, or abysmally bad?
As is mentioned many times on this site, K-On! is a very polarizing show. There are those who love it, and those who hate it.

The show itself has plenty of merits. High production values, good attention to detail, nice music. At a cursory glance, there's nothing wrong with K-On! at all. That, and who wouldn't want to watch a bunch of presumably cute girls frolicking about? Of course, that last point is the very reason K-On! gets so much hate. It is the quintessential example of the "Moe" phenomenon - every character is deliberately designed to be moe in some way, and K-On!'s success at the entire shtick is what seems to have sparked the onset of moe shows lately, and by extension the moe hate and moe discussion that's been downright ubiquitous lately.


"OH GOD, THE MOE!!"

The largest portion of K-On! hate is because it is practically the moe-iest show ever. I haven't seen anything moe-ier, at any rate. Getting past that, I would say it's fairly good. It would definitely appeal to the majority of anime fans, because (as we've already gone over) moe sells. The "hardcore" section of the anime fanbase that's used to dark stuff like Evangelion seems to reject the whole idea of a show based around cute people doing cute things. O' course, I'm a whippersnapper who first entered anime through Naruto and Bleach, so what the hell do I know, right?

Anyway, K-On! and moe are closely intertwined subjects - they're practically interchangeable terms - and while I could muse for quite a while on the entire deal, we're not here to talk about cute girls in general. Just a few in particular.


K-On! - Slice of Life?

To the normal viewer, K-On! is a perfect example of slice of life. There's an overarching plot, but it's rather insubstantial, and the show instead revolves around fairly normal daily activities.

Of course, I'm not a normal viewer. My definition of "Slice of Life" has been changed by manga like ARIA and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, wherein entire chapters can pass with what basically amounts to nothing happening. That's slice of life, in my opinion. The characters of K-On! have a goal, and they're always working to that goal, even if they stop for an episode or two to go and play around in bathing suits or eat cake.

That said, you have to think of it a certain way: K-On!'s primary purpose is to showcase cute girls doing cute things, and those girls happen to be in a band. There's only so many cute things that are band-related, so other activities and unrelated-to-music things that are cutesy are shoehorned in to both pad for length, and to spend more time on cute girls doing cute things.

Alright. I phrased that oddly - I basically don't want to call K-On! slice of life because the life slice isn't the main point.

It's not slice of life. It's icing of life.


"It is a delicious cake. You must eat it."

K-On! - Wish fulfillment, or deeper meaning?

The lack of males in the show is a reversal of the antiquated norm of male dominance. Each of the main girls, a different archetype, represents a different state of social idealogy for women. For example, Tsumugi's combination of ditziness and elegance status reflects the belief that femininity relies on gracefulness and manners to be effective - that girls shouldn't be too smart to appear cute, while Azunyan's small stature, flat chest, and insistence on practicing (against the wishes of all the other girls) mirrors the minimalist, apathetic modern youth.

...Wish fulfillment. Next question.


Yui - Endearing or Frustrating?

I was frustrated by the sheer level of obvious moe pandering in the show, and Yui was at the heart of most of it. She'd trip, roll around the carpet with a goofy expression, sleep with her guitar, try to be friends with everyone, and follow all those other moe traits. It was, put simply, overkill. She wasn't written as a character, she was written as a moeblob.

Like so many other anime, Yui takes the role of the Naive Newcomer, so the plot can be set up and everything explained to our little clumsy, book-dumb, ditzy moeblob of a protagonist. A tried and true method, to be sure. As the audience surrogate, she does the job well, I suppose.

It's not as if she doesn't grow at all throughout the series, of course. She goes from being a completely inept moeblob to a mostly inept moeblob.


"I can't do anything right, but I learned the guitar in a matter of weeks! Boohoo!"

I don't like it, but I understand why it's necessary for the show to have a character like Yui. The show brings out the "try new things" deal during the very first episode, after all - we need a character who hasn't tried anything to try things.

O' course, it works better with someone like Yotsuba, whose naivete is justified.


K-On! - An empty show?

For this matter, I'll redirect you to our very own Karen Leslie's take on the question. Her entire article addresses that particular point.

Also, I'm lazy and don't feel like typing a lecture on why nothing is completely empty.




(Not Pictured: Round characters)

So, in the end, I didn't hate K-On!. It was a fairly enjoyable experience, even though I was rolling my eyes with annoyance and groaning at the sheer volume of moe that's packed into every minutes of every episode. I've definitely seen worse things. There's just got to be a better way.

Now excuse me while I wait for more news about the "The World God Only Knows" anime...

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6:42 PM on 04.01.2010  

HOMELAND SECURITY AND VIDYA GAMES



Them Devil-people in the East are plotting against us, no doubt. What with their "magma" and "onimay" invadin our youth, and even our old peoples. And don't get me started about them Axis automobiles that be failing right an left nowdays. But them pieces of communist bullshit aren't the worst of it. Not even close.

VIDYA GAMES.

Vidya games are the bane of all that is good and Christian and American and capitalist. Them "Final Fantasy" games and their disgusting characters are just the beginning. We can't stand for these bitches and whores and this violent porn invading our AMERICAN CULTURE. Anything we can come up with, the Japanese can come up with it being fucked by them octopusses and squids. WE CANNOT STAND FOR THIS.

Luckily, our spies over in Japan are combating the vidya game menace. Fight fire with sweet, burning, American fire, they say. Our American spies are making vidya games o their own. Good, wholesome, Christian, American, baconized vidya games.



It deeply pains my Christian heart to subject you to that disgusting junk that the Japanese call "text", but know that it's for the greater good. Know that we are converting those child molesters and rapists to good American wholesomeness, even if it is through a disgusting medium like vidya games.

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4:18 PM on 03.07.2010  

Bandai sale at RightStuf

I feel like this is probably common knowledge by now, but there's apparently a sale at RightStuf for Bandai merchanise. 40% off DVDs and Blu-ray, and 33$ off books and other stuff. Lasts until March 15th.


Maybe now I can get those goddamnawfully expensive Gurren Lagann DVDs...

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2:13 AM on 02.22.2010  

Irothtin Recommends: Evangelion RE-TAKE



Chances are if you're really into Evangelion, you already know about this. If not, allow me to enlighten you. Hopefully, you won't regret it.

=-=-=-=-=

As I'm sure you know, there was and still is a massive amount of controversy surrounding the ending to Neon Genesis Evangelion, wherein Shinji and Asuka end up alone on the shore to the sea of LCL, presumably the last two people on Earth.

Countless pages of fanfiction have been written retconning or otherwise attempting to deal with the ending, trying to make it more favorable for all parties involved, including the viewer. RE-TAKE is a multi-volume doujinshi written by Studio Kimigabuchi doing just that. Though no doubt the exact same premise has been used hundreds of times, few if any fan-made works reach the level of RE-TAKE.

Shinji suddenly awakes from the ordeal chronicled in End of Evangelion to find that the Angels he clearly remembers being defeated have yet to appear. Third Impact, the lifeless eyes of the giant Rei, and strangling Asuka on the side of the blood-red sea are all but a vivid dream to him. So, motivated by the horrific sights in his mind, Shinji endeavors to make sure that the events he witnessed do not come to pass.



A cliche plot when it comes to Evangelion fan-works, definitely, but RE-TAKE pulls it off extremely well. While Shinji attempts to patch his relationship with Asuka, he is haunted by visions of the bitter and hateful version of her that remained after Third Impact. She knows everything that has come to pass. With every important decision he makes to change the future, Shinji has to put up both with the taunting and spite of the Asuka he left behind, and the horrific consequences that he himself creates.

Chances are unless you're actively resisting it, RE-TAKE will come off as a perfectly logical conclusion to Evangelion, even more so if you were particularly upset with the original ending. All of the character development is realistic given the setting, and everyone acts as you would expect them to in the actual series.



There are two versions of Evangelion RE-TAKE - the first, six volumes in length, contains explicit adult content, and I will not be linking it here. If you want to read it, find it on your own time. The second version, which I believe to be superior, is three volumes long and has been tastefully edited to be appropriate for all ages. It can be downloaded here.

Much like Onani Master Kurosawa, RE-TAKE is a masterpiece that too many people pass over simply because of its premise and content. Give it a shot, and you shouldn't be disappointed.

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3:55 AM on 01.20.2010  

Irothtin's Anime Adventures I

(lolcheesytitle)

Since Japanator has challenged us all to wage a culture war against piracy, I've decided to do something I should have done a long time ago.

I'm going to go through the entire collection of anime I've pirated but have yet to watch, watch each series in turn, post my thoughts and whatnot, and then delete it. Possibly going out and buying the DVDs afterwards.

First up: Baccano!



There's really no excuse for me having downloaded this one, especially since it's on FUNimation's Youtube channel. I am a failure, I know.

Anyway...

In short, I fucking love this show. I am buying the DVDs asap, and not watching the DVD exclusive episodes that were in the torrent out of respect for their... DVD-ness.

The opening to Baccano! will always be one of my favorites. It's so epic that I don't know how to put it into words. I just love that saxophone.

The main problem I had with the series, though, was that for the first half or so I had a lot of trouble sorting out what was going on, what with the three different plotlines. Once I figured to use Isaac and Miria's costumes and started actually paying attention to the given dates, things made a lot more sense.

But I suppose it would have to be the characters that really made it for me. Most of them all stood out to me, and since everything tends to be covered in sterotype-y crust of cliche, that's a good thing. Not that I'm one to judge, of course.

Isaac and Miria are just so insane and ridiculous that I couldn't help but loving them. They have so much cheer and fun, and it just made the entire show seem happy, and I like happy. So they brought the sort of campy, lighthearted fare that I tend to like in media.

Ladd Russo's blood-seeking tendencies are played with such seriousness that they loop from ridiculous back to brilliant. I usually hate when villains (disregarding that it's hard to call anyone in this show a straight-up villain) have no motivations for their actions, but Ladd's sadism was done so well that I can't complain. Gems like "We'll handle them with love. ANGRY LOVE." completely sell the psychotic attitude.

By the same token, Claire (isn't that a girl's name?) Stanfield was awesome. Even though he was about as psycho as Ladd Russo. I like that sort of shonen-like action that Claire ended up bringing to the party - I'm always up for some blood-covered dude flipping around and kicking ass.

Jacuzzi Splot's plotline made me smile, since I guess I have a soft spot for the type of character that's timid until they need to kick ass, which is exactly what Jacuzzi did. He got thrown a bone, and I feel like the timid character type as a whole needs to be thrown more bones. They tend to be mistreated for comedy, and never catch a break. In the end, Jacuzzi kicked ass and got the girl, so that cheered me up.

Firo, despite being "main-character-ish", didn't get a much of the spotlight as I thought he would. That was just fine with me, since I wanted to see what would happen to Jacuzzi, but I felt like they should have spent more time on the character that they explicitly stated was main-character-ish.

Czeslaw was a good character as well. Though I've seen the "really disturbing child" shtick before, it was still as creepy as ever. And the scene at the end where he meets up with Maiza was just plain heartwarming.

If Durarara is just going to be more of this, I'm totally for it.


Now then, onward to Amazon! I have DVDs to order!

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5:14 PM on 11.05.2009  

The Best Thing Ever: Haibane Renmei



A young girl is awakened by the calls of a crow, only to find herself falling through the air. Oddly calm about the entire experience, she witnesses the crow trying to slow her descent, only for her to shoo it away. She continues to fall, breaking through the clouds and seeing the beautiful landscape beneath her.

Such begins Yoshitoshi ABe's Haibane Renmei, released in the states as Charcoal Feather Federation.

In Haibane Renmei, the focus lies upon the eponymous Haibane: a group of mysterious children and young adults. They live alongside humans in a massive walled city with but a single entrance, and none of the city's inhabitants save the birds that fly freely are allowed to go beyond the walls.

The Haibane are rather different from normal humans - they are born by emerging from massive cocoons, fully-formed and clothed in white robes. The only other outward difference between the mysterious Haibane and the normal residents of the city of Glie is the fact that they all have halos and wings, like angels. Though given a halo shortly after emerging from their cocoon, the wings grow out within 24 hours, painfully and graphically.



None of the people in town, or even the Haibane themselves, knows where they come from or what their purpose is. Though each Haibane remember having some sort of existence before entering Glie, they cannot remember anything that might give them a clue about their identities. The only exception is a vivid dream that each Haibane has while inside their cocoon, which determines their name.

Our protagonist wakes in a warm bed in a building complex known as Old Home, being carefully tended after by older and more experienced Haibane. She is given the name "Rakka", for her dream was that of "falling" through the sky.


Clockwise from top left: Hikari ("Light"), Nemu ("Sleep:), Kuu ("Air"), Kana ("River Fish"), with Reki ("Small Stone") in the middle.

The Haibane live odd lives, as Rakka soon learns. Every Haibane is required to find a job in the town or surrounding landscape. For instance, Hikari works at a bakery, Nemu at a library. They are forbidden from carrying money, instead making use of small notebooks in which they record their daily wages. They may only buy used clothes from a single clothes shop in town, and must modify them for their wings themselves. Despite this, they are treated well by the townspeople, and it is considered good luck to see a Haibane on any given day.

The narrative follows Rakka as she learns more about her existence as a new Haibane, and comes to terms with the things that happen occur in the interim. It explores the compelling mysteries of the Haibane, and how they affect the characters.

A twelve-episode wonder, the pacing is gentle and calm, addressing the relationships between the characters. Early episodes take things slowly, showing Rakka's daily life and she becomes more and more used to her surroundings. Eventually the plot moves into a bit of a darker direction, dealing with the pains of regret and loss, though with an overall optimistic outlook.



The soundtrack of Haibane Renmei is perhaps one of the best ever recorded for an anime, composed by Ko Otani of Shadow of the Colossus fame. Plus, there is now a perfectly valid reason for yelling "Play 'Free Bird'!" at an anime convention.

If you're looking for something that isn't full of explosive action and saucy fanservice, Haibane Renmei might be just the thing you want to see.


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