Aldnoah. Zero‘s a funny anime for me. Although I was only ever capable of taking the narrative half-seriously at best (as my dumb shipping posts should attest), I actually did find the themes interesting on paper. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I found how others reacted to these themes interesting. After watching A.Z and reading the reactions on Twitter, Reddit and MAL, two questions have remained on my mind ever since: firstly, what does it mean to be rational? And secondly, is rationality an ideal worth pursuing?
One of the most common otaku stereotypes is that of the dorky guy who can’t get laid, so he turns to anime girls for his sexual gratification. I think this stereotype – as well as the fact that it’s constantly used as an insult or a self-deprecating joke – is pretty harmful in a number of ways.
This is just a short post filling you in on some of what has been going on in my life. I have not been blogging as often lately, but this is definitely not because I have run out of things to say about anime.
It’s not that Log Horizon is that bad a show. It’s just that from watching the OP you’d think it would at least attempt to have an action scene every episode, instead of long drawn-out scenes showing bored video gamers getting excited over eating sandwiches. Maybe the OP ruined me. Maybe it made me assume the show would be more badass than it actually ended up being. For better or worse, though, the show itself is just a pleasant slice of life romp in an MMORPG world, with some occasional serious plot elements thrown in.
The Barakamon anime is ending in a couple of days. This makes me really sad. Barakamon has been one of my favourite shows of the season. It’s one of the few slice of life anime that genuinely puts me at ease, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that there is catharsis in the narrative. I can see a lot of my own worries and anxieties reflected in Handa’s character. As he learns to de-stress, I can feel myself letting go as well.
(Perhaps that’s what those moe slice of life shows need more of: not an excuse to escape from reality but to embrace it, to tell the viewer that things will be okay.)
But I digress. I’ve been wanting to write about Barakamon for a while but kept putting it off, partly because I’ve been so busy lately. But it’s also because the reason Barakamon has resonated with me is so deeply entangled with my personality faults that I’d feel uncomfortable discussing it openly. Still, considering that I’d written a post not long ago urging fans to be willing to criticise themselves, it’d be hypocritical of me not to practice what I preach!
I should preface this discussion by saying that if you identify as an artist of any craft (or if you’re a perfectionist) you’d probably relate to Barakamon the same way I did. I highly recommend the series if you haven’t seen it already.
By the way, this is an autobiographical post for the most part, so it’s pretty much spoiler free.
Spoilers for the first twelve episodes. Obviously.
I’ve been thinking about Bobduh’s essay lately. Despite the trollbait title, it actually does provide a nuanced argument about how people consume media – at least as far as one’s personal politics goes. For those who haven’t read it, the basic argument is as follows: a little self-scrutiny goes a long way. Thinking hard about why you like certain things is ultimately a more fruitful avenue of discussion than hiding behind self-defence measures, like claiming “IT’S JUST FICTION” or assuming everything you like is “SODEEP”.
What struck me as most interesting is this idea that all media propagates messages, whether consciously or not, along with Bobduh’s claim that a message unexamined is a message believed. The latter is not entirely true in the strictest sense – not paying attention to the racist overtones in, say, H.P. Lovecraft’s works doesn’t automatically mean you’re a racist. If someone posed the question to you whether you condoned racism or not, I like to think you’d say no if you consider yourself as a decent person. But in not engaging with active criticism, you’re passively endorsing values you don’t agree with, or at least letting them go unchallenged.
I think this is particularly important in anime fandom, especially considering the realities of Japanese nationalism and soft power. In this post, I’m going to build on Bobduh’s argument that you should be engaging in serious critique rather than using your media solely to validate yourself, and I’m going to apply that to the broader political context behind anime’s production and consumption. I think it becomes easier to seriously examine your own personal politics when you zoom out and explore the macro-politics. (Because these are big, complex issues, don’t take my post as anything more than an oversimplification. The idea is just to get you thinking about how the personal and the political interact.)
Basically, your taste is bad and so are you and so is Japan and so is the rest of the world.
Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933) is one of Japan’s best-loved and most influential writers. But for whatever reason, he’s not well-known overseas. This post is my attempt to share just a tiny bit of Miyazawa’s enormous influence over anime to you English-speaking anime fans.