Feel free to chalk this up to bias. I have no qualms with that, because as someone of the faith it’s hard not to think the way Japanese media tends to portray the Catholic Church is unfair and in most cases outright insulting. More often than not the Church is simply a stand-in for something foreign and mysterious, and the actual proper teachings and dogma of the Church are left on the wayside in favor of rule-of-cool alterations. I admit that I understand the draw. The Church is an ancient institution, full of complicated rites and extravagant ceremonies. Still, I feel there are better ways of using the Church as a plot element without all of the magical nonsense that normally gets attributed to them.
The biggest culprit is by far the Index series. The Catholic Church shown here is like a caricature of the Feudal Era Church but with magic. Shady entities are constantly sent to murder someone or attempt to cause some great catastrophe in order to benefit the Church. Even after villains from the Church get defeated, they never try to change what is wrong with it. They either join up with Touma’s nun-harem or disappear to never be seen from again. I’m not going to harp on Index for too long though, that show is ridiculous enough to write a whole book on just what’s wrong with it. Most time I ever bring up one of the inanities that happen in the average episode I get told not to think about it, but it’s hard not to get hung up on just how stupid it is.
The whole "quoting the bible while fighting ancient monsters" part is perfectly fine.
One of the biggest examples of the way Catholics are exploited in anime is in the portrayal of the clergy. Now I know this is Iro’s baby, but I couldn’t air my grievances without touching on the Type-Moon franchise. Due to the recent Fate/Zero anime, many of you may be familiar with Kotomine Kirei. The concept of the church is already screwy in this universe, but he really takes the cake. For some reason, he has a family, even though that’s strictly forbidden, and basically takes every opportunity to be the worst human being you would ever know. This is something that was never elucidated in the anime series, but I was told by Iro that apparently Kirei keeps a dungeon full of orphans which he just tortures, because he apparently has an insatiable desire for sadism. And this is basically the only representation we get of the church in that series other than his father we see for two minutes and that group of vampire hunters that murdered Kiritsugu’s entire village.
In other cases we get somewhat accurate cultural friction, but overblown in a way that makes the clergy look ridiculously evil. In the story of Hellsing, the English Anglican Church and the Irish Catholic Church are at odds, which to a certain extent they always have been. However, what we get is a monstrous priest that only intervenes when vampires invade Ireland, not thinking to help people unless they are Catholic. At one point in the anime he tells some kids they should “only be violent against monsters and non-believers. Once again, the Church is just used as a mysterious and magic organization that opposes vampires not because it is good for humanity, but just because they are encroaching on their own territory.
The most badass Pope.
Now, that’s not saying anime are incapable of a fair portrayal. While constantly full of anachronisms, Samurai Champloo told a very realistic story of the Kakure Kirishitans, Catholics that went into hiding after the Tokugawa Shogunate began persecuting them in the 1600s. Under the guise of a saint, a man tries to con innocent people by exploiting their faith, but one of the faithful still opposes him. In the end, she has the power to kill him and end his farce, but spares him, giving him the mercy he never extended to her. In the end, the con-man is killed by his own hubris. I think the best portrayal of the Church in Japanese media would have to be 20th Century Boys. Initially, the only catholic influence on the story is a Shinjuku priest that was former Yakuza, who. Eventually we learn of a young priest with a similar background, who was changed by the kindness of a fellow minister. By him we see that there actually is corruption within the Catholic Church. You see, the thing is I would never try to deny corruption exists within the Church. There will always be people that abuse religion for their own ends. The problem is when this is used as the norm of the church’s function. In 20th Century Boys, the story quickly shows us that there are members of the faith fighting against that corruption while maintaining their belief.
I’m not asking that anime get rid of any mention of the faith. I just wish that its use would be done with a measure of respect, one that shows they understand the long history behind the church and doesn’t just use it for cheap worldbuilding reasons. Trust me, while I only pointed out three series here there are countless dozens like them, each with their own bastardizations. There are so many ways I could see it being done while remaining tasteful, so it’s always depressing to see a show fall back on old tropes when dealing with them.
It's no small fact that G Gundam is the most divisive series in the entire franchise. Whereas most entries in the series were a combination of political and personal intrigue, G Gundam was all about hot blooded robot fights that sometimes did not require reality to even play a part. As a lover of the hotblooded and as one of the first anime my fledgling mind saw on Toonami, G Gundam has a special place in my heart. Its mix of flashy showmanship and hilarious racism were just the right combination to foster youth around the country into the wide world of anime.
Before I go blow for blow as to what could have been done better I think the biggest failing right off the bat was a lack of funny accents. I can understand this in Japanese as the idea of accents just means making someone act like they have a speech impediment, but the Dub had every reason to go full ham on this and they didn't. Why stop with hilariously stereotypical robots when you could have their pilots be just as bad? Have Chibodee talk in a drawl. Make George talk about his favorite croissants. They didn't even have the canadian guy throw in a couple aboots, and he was literally a lumberjack who piloted a lumberjack. Wasted opportunity, guys.
Samurais are old hat man, you know what a gundam representing modern day Japan would be made out of? Idols. Just imagine a giant Miku flying at you releasing her sonic robot voice attack. You'd be scared shitless. Of course, knowing what I do now about the Japanese figure scene the armor would have to be castoffable, so that might be a bit of a major flaw when it comes to defense.
Look into its eyes and see the face of fear.
U.S.A! U.S.A! I think the most universally recognized cultural inaccuracy was that America was not the best and greatest gundam the world has ever seen. I mean, kmon he was a surfing football player that could also transform into a boxer, how was he not the best. Even so, I believe the greatness and righteousness of the true American spirit was not fully expressed. Why stop at football player when it could also be made of eagles? Who wouldn’t watch that shit? Terrorists, that’s who.
Also, what’s with this Queen of Hearts business? This isn't eighties rock this is gundam fighting. That means manly fighting until your skintight battle suit gets ripped off that’s totally not gay what are you talking about.
Man this one was probably the biggest bummer. Other than its natural urge to Rock On I never really felt the Palace Guardsman look really did Britain any favors. Why isn’t it shooting a soccer ball whilst trying to bludgeon another gundam with the pint it just finished? The most british thing its crew ever did was just drink tea and use Britain’s noble traditions of heavy rain and dishonesty to try and win.
I got a fever.
I think the biggest complaint any hollandaise could have about their portrayal in the show is simple: Gotta have more windmill. Sure the Netherlands already seemed to have thought wind power and cowardice were the keys to colonial success, but what if they had more? As Xerxes’s messenger said in a famous intimidation to the Greeks “Our arrows shall blot out the sun!” You gotta reach for the stars like they did, Holland. Maybe there’d even be enough to clog the Dark Gundam’s cannons eventually. Not like they were really doing much else in that fight anyway.
All Hail Mao
Man a gundam made of dragons piloted by a kung fu kid? I think the only thing they could have done to improve that were to give it its own smog machine.
Ruskies Talk about wasted potential. Out of all the hilariously stereotypical gundams Russia's was always just so bland. What's so russian about a ball and chain? The only thing they really got right was the severe condition of its prisons. Still, not a single one of them got TB. I call foul. First thing, get rid of helmet, not ushanka-y enough. Then, you make a gundam inside that gundam. Then, another gundam inside that gundam until the gundam is just a dude dressed up in gundam armor. Either that or just go full on Putin and put that mofo bare-chested astride his noble steed.
Though I suppose this more makes it look like a selection from Galactic Empire Playgirl
Well as much fun as it would be to see G Gundam updated to a modern age of cultural insensitivity, it is most likely only a fool's dream that another Gundam so hotblooded and hilarious would ever be made again. While we can only look back at the greatness that it was, at least it will always remain there in our hearts. Long gone are the days that an old mustachioed gentleman can take on three stories tall robots armed with nothing but a ribbon and his own bare hands. Look, the east is burning red!
I tend to have a knack of watching anime at really poignant times in my life. After just getting out of high school was when I first watched Azumanga Daioh. While it was an amazing show which is an enduring favorite to this day, its ending still made me depressed that that period of my life was over. Four years later I suppose I should have known what I was getting into when I started watched Honey and Clover, the story of a boy going through his college days with good friends. Itâ€™s at the tail end of Honey and Clover that I was looking for something, anything to cheer me up and brighten my mood. It was then, scrolling through Huluâ€™s surprisingly robust selection of shows that I rolled over a gag series Iâ€™d only heard of in passing, that of the hilarious escapades of Sgt. Frog.
A lot of what I find to be the defining trait that makes a comedy good is a terrific cast of characters, and Sgt. Frog is no exception. The eponymous Sgt. Frog, a consummate neâ€™er-do-well, absolutely makes the show. His incompetence and laziness always result in him finding the most elaborate and amusing ways to ditch his duties or get more money for his gigantic Gundam model collection. Eventually joining him is the ever faithful Tamama, a cutesy soldier with a mean jealousy streak; Giroro, a hardened fighter and fish out of water in a platoon full of lunatics; Kululu, a mad scientist whose sadistic tendencies are a main driver of physical comedy; and Dororo, a quiet ninja who has sworn off the crazy group for his own safety. Each character really plays off the others well and show how incompetent this earth invading squadron is in the most ludicrous fashion.
Supporting the platoon is a group of humans who has decided to take the frogs in as they are scattered from a botched invasion attempt. The members of the Hinata household are the main supporting characters and their house is the seat of most of the action. Dorky Fuyuki and fiery Natsumi have a great dynamic as brother and sister. However, I usually feel they are underused and seem primarily in the show to react or be victims to the antics of the ARMPIT platoon. Their mom is by far the most exploited character in the show, with most every scene involving some kind of fanservice. By far my favorite human character is the lovecrazed Momoka, the guardian of Tamama, who steals every scene with her wild internal monologs and hilariously exaggerated obsession.
The entire cast is rounded out by two great additions which I really think change the show from simply funny to outright hilarious. Throughout many episodes there is a narrator who often interacts with members of the cast. He is the source of great back-and-forth scenes that really add to the light-hearted insanity of the show. I also love the liberties taken in the English dub with translating the scrolling text. By either making offhand comments on the show as itâ€™s unfolding or even refusing to properly translate what it is saying, itâ€™s given it a personality all its own. It can suffer from the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei effect of too much text too quickly to analyze it all, but it is not very common and usually everything it has to say is given plenty of time to read.
With a cast of alien frogmen bent on taking over the world, itâ€™s easy to tell that Sgt. Frog is an absurdist comedy. Much of the humor comes off of the banter between characters as they deal with whatever messed up situation the Sergeant has gotten them into today. I cannot stress how much of a better experience this is made by watching the English dub. Thereâ€™s a lot of care gone into the writing here to maximize jokes for an American audience. While I do enjoy it when it is executed well, referential humor can really fall flat if it is too localized. I loved the gag dub of Ghost Stories, but when I watched it back in 08 many of the references, like Christian Slaterâ€™s acting career, really fell flat because I barely knew what they were talking about. While Sgt. Frog inherently benefits from current events not being too stale since it was just made in 2009, there are a lot of well executed references to timeless pieces of pop culture. While Sgt. Frog has a lot to offer, it isnâ€™t perfect by any means. There are many episodes where the comedy lasts throughout the entire length of the show, some episodes fall flat, or have punchlines that take way too long to capitalize on.
I may have been spoiled by Nichijouâ€™s flawless style, but as a typical comedy show, especially one that was animated back in 04, there isnâ€™t much to say of Sgt. Frogâ€™s technical values. Frames will often be reused and even if done for comic relief it can become boring to watch the same scenes or simply look at a still of the Serge talking as he lazes about. Since it doesnâ€™t really gain anything from better definition this does at least make it quite an easy decision if youâ€™re strapped on cash to simply check the show out on Hulu.
Despite some flaws, I obviously enjoyed Sgt. Frog. It has a great cast and a fantastic sense of humor. I would definitely consider it with the likes of Azumanga Daioh or Cromartie High as one of the best comedies I've ever had the pleasure to watch.
This was a piece I made for the last round of hiring. I had totally forgotten about it until the announcement, and since Marc has graciously allowed it to become relevant again with his end of the year article, I felt like I might as well finally release it to the general public. Enjoy!
Like many other people, Iâ€™ve immensely enjoyed Nichijou. It has a great blend of fantastic animation and surrealist gags. However, I could never shake the feeling that there was something sinister just under the surface of this light-hearted affair. Something so devious that it hides its malicious agenda under a faĂ§ade of slapstick antics and adorable diversions. The Shinonome household may seem happy, but it is really an oppressive environment ruled by a mad and cruel Professor.
Now I know what youâ€™re thinking â€śSheâ€™s just a little kid, thereâ€™s no way she could be that evil.â€ť Thatâ€™s the genius of it, though. She may act like a child, but think for a second: Could a mad scientist who created a fully sentient robot and neural-linguistic cat amplifier really be a child? Rather, I think she plays the immature angle simply to make her sadistic temperaments look like the chaotic actions of a child.
It is said that most psychopaths exhibit instances of animal abuse. Then, is it really all that surprising that we see the professor quickly playing with Sakamoto like an expendable toy? She hits him with a box of popcorn for nothing, continuously holds him by the tail, and generally is a menace to the poor creature. When Sakamoto was stuck in her glue trap she did not care for his wellbeing. Even when he is completely encased and visibly struggling for air she is only worried about herself. She doesn't care about the other creatures in the house as they are just other playthings to manipulate and nothing more. However as a testament to her malice, this just begins to scratches the surface.
Pictured: Animal Cruelty
To expose the true evil of the professor one needs look no further than her metal daughter, poor Nano. At first it would seem that Nano is the guardian of the house, that the Professor created her in order to fill a role missing in her life. However, a look at any of the scenes in the Shinonome household and it would appear Nano is more a slave, made to cater to the whims of a capricious owner. Nano tries to assert authority, but is undermined at every turn by the Professors callousness and greed. She tells the Professor not to eat snacks, she does not listen. She makes a deal with the professor to remove her screw and the Professor simply uses it as a ruse to distract her. She undermines Nano at every turn and always puts her own needs ahead of hers. Even when she lets Nano go to school it is simply so that she is out of her hair and can eat with impunity, which seems bizarre since that never stopped her in the past to begin with. I suppose even a black soul like hers knows compassion every once in a while.
You know sheâ€™s only thinking of snacks and plotting the misery of all mankind.
Really, the only reason I could possibly see for creating Nano is this: the Professor needed someone to be her proxy in stores since the sight of an eight year old alone in a supermarket would definitely draw suspicion. On that note: Why does she have no family? Are we really meant to expect that a supposedly eight year old girl bought and furnished a house all on her own? Everything considered, I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if she killed them. Honestly, that would explain a lot.
The defining characteristic of a master-slave relationship is that the master denies the slave the will to do what it wants on its own. She herself has admitted to thinking of her as nothing but a robot, a tool that she made and that she has total control over. How cruel is the Professor to make a robot of completely free will, and then limit it by preventing what it can do? It is an even darker take to see how the Professor does not regard her very body with any dignity, deciding to modify it with anything imaginable, either to benefit herself at Nanoâ€™s expense or seemingly just to irritate her.
I can just see her dabbing that in Nanoâ€™s tears before eating it. Tears made of frosting.
However, it seems that it may be her own hubris that will inevitably be her downfall. She constantly falling for her own traps and has seen plans backfire tremendously. At one point Nano finds out that the Professor had installed a gun inside her body; she uses it against her, even though she had no idea whether it was real or not. She literally shot to kill. I can only see Nano snapping in the future and murdering her cruel creator in desperation of wanting true freedom. Maybe then would the world of Nichijou be free of this menace once and for all.
To be honest, I didnâ€™t get into anime as early as most. Sure, I watched Pokemon or Digimon as a kid, or went over to a friendâ€™s to watch DBZ, but I didnâ€™t even have cable until the late nineties, and even then I opted to watch Nickelodeon rather than Toonami. However, something happened around sixth grade. I think my conversion started with G Gundam. It was a ridiculous show for a kid that loved ridiculous things. I went on to soak up every offering Cartoon Network had to offer, and for a while, that was enough. However, while I came to love anime, I also became incredibly conscious about the stigma placed upon it. My brothers would taunt me if they caught me watching even the best of shows. Even my best friends all throughout high school took to it with disdain. That is how I learned to hide it. I bought nothing. I talked about nothing. I would only watch shows in the dead of night when my family was asleep.
Finally, I graduated, and I would be separated from many of my friends. However, the first year I spent there I spent in solitude. I had dinner with a group of like-typed people, but I thought they were just gamers, just like my old friends were gamers. It was watching in solitude that I actually learned about the idea of watching anime as they came out. Iâ€™ll always remember when I talked to some people in a group for flash artists about a new romcom named Toradora, and where on Youtube you can find it. It started a love of the genre that I continue to be suckered into today. I found myself almost religiously waiting on the submitterâ€™s youtube page every Friday for fresh releases, and by the end of the series, I actually had a thought. I got opinions.
It wasnâ€™t until the summer of that year, 2009, that I would find Destructoid through my love of gaming. A few months later, I noticed an icon at the top of the page. â€śAnimeâ€ť it said. How could I refuse such a tempting invitation? Next thing I know I find Japanator. One could call me kind of a coward. I was much the lurker, just watching from afar to see if anything interesting showed up. This is one thing I had to thank Japanator greatly for; they turned me on To Kimi ni Todoke. I believe I first was aware of it from a recommendation by Dale claiming that it might become the greatest romcom ever. Is it really slow? Yes. Is it really cheesy and unrealistic? Yes. Do I love it to death anyway? You know it. It was like pure granulated cane sugar straight to the eyes, and I loved every minute of it. Finally, I decided to make my voice heard. The forums will tell you I joined in November, but I honestly canâ€™t remember when I started participating outright. Itâ€™s been such a joy to talk with so many people about anime when Iâ€™d never really had the forum for something like this before. Japanator, thank you, all of you, for accepting me.
Now, I could end it there, but that would be an injustice to some other very important people. At the same time I started participating in the Japanator community, I started to notice some of my friends showing more of a passion for anime. As products of Toonami weâ€™d watch streams of Dragonball Z, and slowly I realized I had finally found the people I was looking for, people who didnâ€™t scoff at the first mention of anything weird and Japanese. Then, the ultimate test of friendship happened. One of my friends decided he wanted to watch Elfen Lied, without knowing much of what it was about. Full disclosure here, I had previously freshman year read the entirety of the Elfen Lied manga, a time in my solidarity that included a few others like it which I really shouldnâ€™t admit to reading in public. No, I did not stop them, and yes, I am a horrible friend. Even I had honestly forgotten how terribly graphic the manga was, let alone have it played out in motion. By the end of it, my Halo-enthusiast friend dropped out and to this day refuses to enter the fold, but a new friend of mine was intrigued. Donâ€™t get me wrong, he wasnâ€™t into dismemberment or that sort of thing, I already have a friend whoâ€™s weird like that, but he was receptive of anime in general.
It was from his interest that I decided something. I had to be the Anime Guy. Sure, we watched DBZ every once in a while, but we never sat down and watched more complex shows, and no one ever brought anything new to the table. I had to be the proprietor, their anime dealer so to speak. As broke as I was, I gambled on one purchase. Over the years as an anime fan, thereâ€™s been one title that Iâ€™ve loved to death. Iâ€™ve never been able to watch an episode and find it unenjoyable. That was Azumanga Daioh. â€śBrilliant!â€ť I thought, â€śThatâ€™s perfect for a beginner to get into.â€ť I apparently forgot that by Episode 4 we have a bit devoted solely to teenage girls in swimsuits and their perverted lit teacher being generally unsettling the entire time. Somehow, this worked. Instead of me having to broach the subject, I would literally be pulled from my room and brought out to watch more of it. It was on one of these excursions that I realized, again, that I had found true company. Not just people that Iâ€™ll talk to while eating every day, or people Iâ€™d talk to in the halls, but confidants in anime. Once more I had found acceptance, and I can never be too grateful for the friendship itâ€™s brought.