Roses and Their Thorns

August 27, 2014 § 2 Comments

What does it mean to be special? What does it mean as a person? What does it mean as a show? Rewatching Kare Kano this week, these are the questions that stood out to me.

An empty street in Kare Kano

Actually, what made them stand out to me more than anything was the similarity of the anime to Neon Genesis Evangelion. The celebrated but controversial director Anno Hideaki directed both works, which really couldn’t appear more unrelated. If you aren’t aware, Evangelion is a psychological deconstruction of the shounen genre, the mecha subgenre, and the hero’s journey that often describes both. Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, sometimes known in America as His and Her Circumstances, is a somewhat traditional shoujo romance, at least on its surface. However, these two disparate shows share common motifs and themes, each using them in ways that support their respective strengths. « Read the rest of this entry »

You Can (Not) Rename

August 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Breaking news! Hideaki Anno has rereleased the first three Rebuild of Evangelion movies with more positive titles, to combat the slump in sales after Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo came out to mixed reviews. However, Amazon still contains a few hardline Eva fans who have refused to countenance the move.

The Rebuild of Evangelion movies on Amazon, with a title-listing glitch.

The Rebuild of Evangelion movies on Amazon, with a title-listing glitch.

Alternately, Amazon has hired Wayne and Garth to do their marketing for anime. I’d complain, but anyone is an improvement over Charles Solomon.

As Time Goes By

August 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

I always dread kissing in any action-adventure epic. At some point in the movie, the main male character and the main female character have to kiss, otherwise the power fantasy is shot and the audience will riot. They’ve been together a while and don’t hate each other, why don’t they get busy, everyone will ask. As much as I liked Edge of Tomorrow, I knew that Tom Cruise, no matter how weak he was, had to kiss Emily Blunt, no matter how strong she was, and that knowledge made me miserable. I almost felt like a parent, sure that my son or daughter was taking his or her boyfriend or girlfriend upstairs for the wrong reasons, but also sure that I could do nothing to stop it.

Raleigh and Mako don't kiss in Pacific Rim

Raleigh and Mako don’t kiss in Pacific Rim

The kiss bothers me so much with its ubiquity in cinema as the endpoint of the hero’s journey that the absence of one between Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in Pacific Rim was one of the few things that recommended the movie wholeheartedly to me. Even if the rumors were true that there was no kiss because Japanese actresses get blackballed for kissing non-Japanese actors, the movie was still improved by it, albeit inadvertently. Anything for a female character’s arc not to be her eventual acceptance of physical affection, I say. « Read the rest of this entry »

Friends Indeed

August 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

I usually bring up my love of K-On! when I want to embarrass myself to the sake of humor or when I want to preempt someone’s worst assumptions about anime. Either way, it almost always works, because it’s definitely not a show about which you’d expect to hear from a male graduate student in his late twenties, not without him sporting a telltale scar or something that signifies an inward decay. It’s not an act, though, because K-On! is easily one of my favorites, as much for the circumstances under which I watched it as for its own qualities.

Tsumugi, Azusa, Ritsu, Mio, and Yui from K-On!

I moved to a new city in order to start a graduate program back in 2009. Despite the brilliance of my prose here, which invariably suggests a charming and fascinating person at the keyboard, I don’t make friends too quickly, so the first year was hard. I had the people in my program with whom to get along, but there wasn’t any closeness between us because all we had in common was work. What’s worse, in grad school, work is already the kind of caricature you see in movies penned by screenwriters who’ve never worked a day in their lives, in which work has to be taken home and done on the toilet and fed into nightmares. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I always have, but it was meager food for a while there. « Read the rest of this entry »

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