Some thoughts on the stories we tell children

October 19, 2014 § 6 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s literature because I have lately found myself in the business of evaluating a large number of children’s films. Never mind the circumstances, because what’s on my mind at the moment is the meaning imparted by children’s literature, or, more generally, the art we make for children.

Two instances, not quite formed into ideas, are what I want to share with you here, in the hopes that sharing helps me to understand them better:

– I read a review online of a classic children’s book by an adult man. He looked very serious in his picture. The book is known for its chaotic, whimsical spirit of adventure and its bold, nonconformist girl hero. The reviewer did not understand why the book was so popular. He said that it did not represent the values he wanted to teach to his children. I wondered what it would be like to grow up to be the humorless adult in a children’s story, if that fate befalls many of us, and if reading the story as a child would save you from it.

– I watched a remarkable short animation, The New Species. In this film, three children discover a mysterious bone in the ground. They come up with wild fantasies of the bone’s origin, of what part of an animal could have produced it, and their disparate theories combine to make an improbable beast who hovers over their heads for the remainder of the film. They show the bone to adults but the adults are unimpressed, telling them to get on with their homework and chores. They search books and museums and eventually find themselves at the office of a paleontologist, who promptly analyzes the specimen and finds that it matches nothing he has seen before. He gives it back to the children, who, disenchanted, return it to the hole in the ground. As they walk away, the “camera” pans below the earth to reveal the vast skeleton of an unknown animal. « Read the rest of this entry »

Car-Navi Detective Navi

October 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is going to be a little less hard-hitting than my post on the Absolute Terror Field, but it needs to be written anyway.

In the fourth volume of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Koji Kumeta pens an “interview” with the two-man writer/artist team that is supposedly collaborating under his name. These invented personalities evoke and mock so many famous people in the real-life manga industry (Osamu Tezuka, Go Nagai, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi are just a few that I recognize) that they mostly just read as a broad stereotype of the myopic, self-obsessed, and irrelevant mangaka that Kumeta resents and also maybe wants to become.

Osamu Kometa and Yasushi Hisamoto, the team that supposedly works together under the name Koji Kumeta to make the manga Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei

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All Grown Up

October 5, 2014 § 3 Comments

Can someone out there please sell me on Honey & Clover? Having watched three episodes so far, here are the things I like about this anime:

  1. I like that it appears to take place in a world like our own, because it means the characters will die someday.
  2. I like that the sun will consume our planet five billion years from now, because it means that said characters will die even if they possess biological or clinical immortality.
  3. I like that there’s a tsundere girl who throws clay pots while crying into them.
  4. I like that there’s a girl with a crutch, that’s different.

There, I’m tapped out. The thing is, I’ve looked into my heart and I don’t think I can handle another show wherein multiple guys fall all over each other to win the affections of a girl who we are assured is at least eighteen even though she looks and acts like she’s maybe half that. Girls like Hagumi break my heart, but not in a good way.

Hagumi from Honey & Clover

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