The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

December 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is going to be a shorter note, because it’s the holidays and I’m writing this from a cramped laptop surrounded by far too much cheer.

I just finished reading Oryx and Crake, my first book by Margaret Atwood. Go ahead and pick your jaw up from the floor. No, please. I’ll wait, I’ve got time. I don’t know why I chose it over The Handmaid’s Tale or The Blind Assassin, except that Oryx and Crake is a story about the end of the world, which is the kind of story I find myself seeking out lately. Maybe I’m always seeking it out, I don’t know.

Suffice to say, I liked this book immensely. Atwood has a fullness of style that doesn’t particularly take up space, like it does with Iain M. Banks or George R.R. Martin, and it manifests best in a talent for bon mots that are heartbreaking in context while still being quotable out of it. The biggest stumbling block to my total enjoyment, besides Atwood’s penchant for conflating commercial branding with phonological butchery, was the premise of the novel itself, in fact. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Story of a Life

December 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

This post will be the first of several I hope to write, along with my other friends here, about Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! and its themes. WataMote, as I’ll call it henceforth for the sake of everyone else’s sanity, is not my favorite anime, although I do like it a lot, and yet I feel strongly that there needs to be an ongoing conversation about it. Large swathes of the internet have written it off as “misery porn,” something like the movie Hick from 2011, because the anime features a socially awkward high-school girl who is repeatedly damned by her own proud and selfish choices to a life of loneliness at best and humiliation at worst. I won’t deny that it’s a hard show to watch, not least because pride and selfishness characterized a lot of my own behavior as a teenager, but I think even the first few episodes of WataMote have something interesting to say about the relevancy of traditional character arcs and narratives to the exigencies of real life.

For a protagonist in what’s usually considered to be a slice-of-life anime, Kuroki Tomoko is not a particularly nice person. When the audience is first introduced to their nominal heroine, she’s sitting alone at her computer late at night, looking up the definition of an “unpopular girl.” Reading it, she immediately concludes that it’s talking about “ugly girls” who are ignored by guys. She doesn’t count herself one of them, despite her grating voice and sunken eyes, because video games have given her lots of experience with the opposite sex. As the narration, which is only used in the first and last episode, spells out for the audience: “Here we have a particular girl — an unpopular girl — and her story that doesn’t really matter.” It’s hard to argue with that, right?

Kuroki Tomoko from Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!

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Zeroes of Yore

December 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

I love Record of Lodoss War. Sometimes an anime comes into being as a perfect union of art with writing, which makes every moment shown onscreen more real than real life…

Wait, no. Record of Lodoss War is nothing like that. Actually, I’d like it less if it were, because the wonderful thing about Record of Lodoss War is how openly it bears the marks of its creative process, long and ugly though it may be.

Ghim, Woodchuck, Etoh, Parn, Deedlit, and Slayn from Record of Lodoss War

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