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 aboutType-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 he’s already a classy 19th-century British gentleman. He’s got money coming out the ears, but he’s 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 doesn’t 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. That’s right folks, Jojo is so fabulous that the person who hates him most in the world can’t 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 doesn’t shorten to “JoJo”, it does shorten to “GioGio”. If it’s good enough for Hirohiko Araki, it’s good enough for me. Giorno is the son of the aforementioned fabulous vampire, Dio Brando, making him fabulous by proxy. But wait, Dio stole Jonathan’s body, so… whose son is Giorno actually? Both of them, I guess? That’s double fabulous.
I am loathe to admit that I haven’t actually read most of the Vento Aureo arc, but hey, just look at the dude. Hair donuts, cleavage window, ladybug motif! He’s clearly fabulous! Even his Stand is made of gold! What’s more fabulous than gold? “Being a badass Mafia gangster”, you say? Well I’ve 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t have any of that old British stuffiness that his grandfather Jonathan did. It’s 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.
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...
Katawa Shoujo came out a bit ago, and itâ€™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.
Thereâ€™s the obvious idea throughout Katawa Shoujo that disabled people are just people â€“ no more, no less. But in my experience playing the game from start to finish, the real theme isnâ€™t just about seeing past their disabilities. Itâ€™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, itâ€™s easier than ever to connect with people, but itâ€™s also easier than ever to keep everyone at armâ€™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 â€“ itâ€™s what the internet does, really. Itâ€™s a brutal, brutal place at times, and itâ€™s definitely easier to just clam up and deal with people at only a superficial level.
Itâ€™s kind of like the hedgehogâ€™s dilemma, really. For those not in the know, the hedgehogâ€™s dilemma is an analogy about people and relationships â€“ hedgehogs have to huddle together to keep warm during cold weather and tough times, but they canâ€™t get too close without harming each other with their quills. But humans arenâ€™t hedgehogs, and we donâ€™t rely solely on animal instinct â€“ we are social creatures, and I think weâ€™d all go crazy if we couldnâ€™t form bonds with others.
The crux of every route is always about bridging the gap between Hisao and the heroine of the story. Itâ€™s more superficially obvious in some routes than others, but itâ€™s always the main point in the end, one way or another.
Emi puts up a barrier of goodwill around herself â€“ she keeps everyone at armâ€™s length, hides her problems behind a faĂ§ade of energy and happiness. She speaks about how itâ€™s pointless to talk about her troubles to anyone else â€“ her life was stripped from her once in the car accident that took her legs and her father, and thereâ€™s no telling when it could happen again. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say. She admits that her previous boyfriend couldnâ€™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 itâ€™s okay to rely on others.
Hanakoâ€™s route is similar â€“ 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 itâ€™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 â€“ 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. Sheâ€™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.
Lillyâ€™s route deals mostly with her mothering nature, and Hisao stumbles around her point of view. Hisao admires Lillyâ€™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 â€“ because of her blindness and her family situation, Lilly constantly works herself to make sure she isnâ€™t a burden to others, only a help. Hisaoâ€™s final attempt to close this distance between them and create a mutual bond of support forms the climactic scene of the route.
Shizuneâ€™s route makes the gap between them obvious from the get-go. A deaf-mute, Shizune can initially only connect with others through Misha â€“ fittingly, Hisaoâ€™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.
Shizuneâ€™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 itâ€™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, Shizuneâ€™s father is immediately shown as a rude and inconsiderate buffoon. He refuses to acknowledge Shizuneâ€™s circumstances, and makes no effort to understand either of his own children. The portrayal is a bit heavy-handed, but necessarily so.
Rinâ€™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 Rinâ€™s difficulties in expressing herself and Hisaoâ€™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 sheâ€™s really feeling. She struggles with the idea that people want her to be something sheâ€™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 heroineâ€™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 shouldnâ€™t have pushed everyone away, eh? And maybe thisâ€™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.
Weâ€™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 isnâ€™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 itâ€™s okay to trust others, to let them into our world. Not just okay, in fact â€“ itâ€™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 canâ€™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, thatâ€™s pretty damn powerful.
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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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.