rynling: (Default)
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is an anime about a gay dragon who falls in love with a woman who gets really drunk one night and randomly invites her back to her place because she thinks dragons are neat. This woman happens to be obsessed with maids, so the dragon shapeshifts into a human(-ish) girl in a French maid outfit in order to win her heart.

The show is pure crack, but mostly it's just pure, and I don't know why I waited so long to start watching it. It's a KyoAni production, so the animation and character designs are gorgeous.

Meanwhile, Attack on Titan continues to be a horrifically gory mindfuck, and
rynling: (Default)
"I don't really care about figure skating," I said to myself before proceeding to watch more anime in one sitting than I have since college.

I never watch sports anime, but Yuri on Ice is really good. Seven minutes in and I was gone.
rynling: (Gator Strut)
Hi, my name is Kathryn. I like anime, and I like video games. Welcome to the nerd circus, we're all pals here!! you might say to me, but this is not necessarily true. Friends, I have to tell you that gaming fandom and anime fandom on Tumblr are like day and nightcore.

I've run in video game fandom circles for a while now, and some of the microaggressions I routinely deal with regarding my fellow gamers would make a grown dinosaur cry. To give an example, I have people who like and/or reblog just about everything I post, but they won't follow me because that would be weird I guess?? Meanwhile, I have actual mutuals who won't like or reblog something I post until someone cooler reblogs it from me. And every so often I'll stumble across something interesting from like 2013, and I'll reblog it from the source, and then one of my mutuals will reblog it from the same source not five minutes later instead of reblogging it from me.

Like, who does that? Who mixes beer and Red Bull and dives deep into the dumpster of a Tumblr tag, scraping past the stale garbage at the top of the feed to get to the fermented trash at the bottom? What sort of unhinged person would think that wading through adolescent wank fantasies and the dank memes of yesteryear for an original reblog is a good idea? Who thinks there's any sort of social prestige to be gained by reblogging from the source? I mean, besides me obviously, but listen.

What I'm trying to say is that video game fandom people can be kind of bizarrely competitive sometimes, and they also tend to form oddly exclusive teams. This might be because video games themselves encourage such patterns of behavior, but it might also be because there's something about video games that's a little bit cool maybe. Celebrities play games, musicians play games, and there are even attractive and charismatic people who design games. You can be a game fan and still be "cool." I have never been cool in my life and don't know what that entails exactly, but the point still stands.

Anime, on the other hand, is not and has never been cool. Literally not a single human is going to accept a prestigious entertainment award and thank Megumi Hayashibara for being an inspiration, you know? Us anime fans are all hanging out in the scrub lands of popular culture, crouched around the digital bonfire that is Tumblr and passing around a tin cup of whiskey. "I've seen some shit," one of us will say. "Do you remember the English dub of Gurren Lagann in aught-eight," another will answer. And then we'll all sigh deeply and mutter something that sounds suspiciously like This drill is... my soul!! which we all know in our heart of hearts never made any damn sense. As internationally famed director Hayao Miyazaki so wisely stated, "Anime was a mistake."

Because we're all in the landfill incinerator together, anime fans stick close to one another. If an anime fan follows you on Tumblr, they will follow you forever, through thick and thin, through your changing interests and your social justice warrioring phase and any incomprehensible shitposts you may generate. When an anime fan finds another anime fan, they are Tumblr Waifus for Laifu. Treasure your anime fan mutuals, because they've got your back while the video game people are up to shenanigans.
rynling: (Terra Branford)
Why do I still watch it?

No one knows.
rynling: (Silver)
Title: Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara
Episode Duration: 4 minutes
Synopsis: A middle school student is fed the fuck up with being a magical girl.
Why I'm Watching It: The protagonist has no problem saying what we're all thinking vis-à-vis the male gaze.

Title: Ojisan to Marshmallow
Episode Duration: 3 minutes 30 seconds
Synopsis: A female sex pest publicly harasses an overweight salary worker with marshmallows.
Why I'm Watching It: I can't look away.

Title: Ooyasan wa Shishunki!
Episode Duration: 2 minutes
Synopsis: A college student moves into an apartment building managed by a middle school girl.
Why I'm Watching It: I'm intrigued by the (extremely) oblique suggestion that the girl killed her parents.

Title: Oshiete! Galko-chan
Episode Duration: 7 minutes 50 seconds
Synopsis: Two high school girls discuss common myths pertaining to female bodies.
Why I'm Watching It: The fact that the takes-no-shit popular girl and the cynical nerdy girl share an easygoing and uncomplicated friendship hits me right in the feels.

Title: Yamishibai, 3rd Season
Episode Duration: 4 minutes 30 seconds
Synopsis: A series of demonic women kill and devour hapless men.
Why I'm Watching It: For me this show is like a glossy lifestyle magazine. I feel like I should be taking notes.
rynling: (Teh Bowz)
Princess Kaguya was hard to watch.

First of all, it was two hours and fifteen minutes long. Who does that?

Second, its heroine had less agency than one of the early Disney princesses. Kaguya would flee from the capital and do something exciting, but then the movie would be all NOPE just a dream! And then, once she finally becomes a bit more mature and starts acting for herself, the movie is like NOPE it's time for her to be carried off somewhere against her will!

Third, based on everything we know, a great deal of which was written by women, Kaguya's lack of agency is not historically accurate. Kaguya would never have been forced to marry anyone, and it would have been her mother or governess or handmaid that made and accepted the match. Older men would not have been in a position to court her for various reasons; and, if they had, they would not have expected to touch or even see her at any point (it would have been like an adoption). Kaguya could have actually left the capital at any time for any reason; and, given her family's wealth, she would have been expected to do so regularly. Even as a teenager, she would have been able to make personnel hiring decisions on the spot, and she would have been able to associate with any number of friends and/or romantic partners beneath her station.

Fourth, she is a FUCKING MOON PRINCESS from the FUCKING MOON and there is no need to even try to be historically accurate in terms of gender roles.

I'm not sure what Takahata was trying to do here, but I did not appreciate it.
rynling: (Silver)
I'm sitting there watching moé shows like.

Although to be honest I'm not sure I even like anime anymore?

I recently made this observation to a friend of mine, and he was like, "How can you dislike an entire medium?" Idk, when an entire medium is either creeping on adolescent girls or following screaming teenagers across an endless series of battles, it's difficult to stay interested after ten years. I'm still vaguely into cinema anime and experimental anime and anime-style fan art, but I think it's time to give up on catgirls in maid uniforms.
rynling: (Terra)
One can divide American anime fandom into four distinct periods between 1997 and 2007. Because the boundaries between these periods are somewhat nebulous and may differ according to individual experience, I am going to divide them not by years but by the popularity of certain series.

Period 1
Sailor Moon

Many anime fans during this period were either older veterans of fantasy and sci-fi conventions or elementary and middle school kids who didn't really know anything about anything. Anime series were sold two episodes at a time on expensive VHS tapes. There were separate tapes for the dubbed versions and the subtitled versions of each series. The subtitled versions were more expensive, as just about everyone preferred the dubbed versions. People were still calling anime "Japanimation," which was misleading, as distributors generally did everything they could to erase all "Japanese" elements from their releases; specific references to Japanese culture were generally glossed over or cut out entirely. Pornographic OVAs formed a significant percentage of the anime released in America.

Period 2
Cowboy Bebop
Excel Saga

By this point, anime had become popular with high school and college students, and translated manga was now sold at major bookstore chains like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Anime clubs were springing up everywhere, and their members had taken to calling themselves "otaku." Many of these self-proclaimed otaku demonstrated a real interest in studying Japanese, and became something of a faux pas to admit to watching a show in its dubbed version. Thankfully, DVD technology had advanced to the point where three or four episodes, with both original Japanese and English dubbed voice tracks, could be put on a single disc. These DVDs were sold individually, and they were still quite expensive. Anime music videos started to become popular around this time. If I had to guess, I would say that this trend is related to American internet culture, specifically the culture of YTMND clips and Flash movies that was in full swing at the time.

Period 3

Azumanga Daioh

Before there was much fan art on the internet, there was fan fiction, and there sure was a lot of fan fiction. A great deal of it focused heterosexual romance, of which a sizable percentage was overtly sexual. Because of the growing influence of Livejournal as a hub for fans and fandoms, many anime fans also participated in the Harry Potter fandom. Fan artists were posting their work online, usually to web pages devoted to a certain show, video game, or character. Much of the fan art that tried to imitate an "anime style" was terrible, or at least uncreative and amateurish, and this fan art was resoundingly mocked by more established fan cultures. As anime won a larger and broader audience, more anime series and manga titles began to be released in America. Entire sections of book stores and electronics stores were devoted to anime and manga, and you could now rent anime at Blockbuster. The mass media more or less ignored all of this, as they were too busy discovering Miyazaki and debating whether the Pokémon franchise represented the end of civilization. Regional anime conventions were chartered left and right, attendance soared, and fans started to cosplay in greater numbers. Furry and otherkin cultures occasionally clashed with anime fandom cultures at these conventions, but I'm not going to talk about that.

Period 4
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Full Metal Alchemist
Death Note

Anime fan culture had become very sophisticated by this point. Having mastered words like shōnen and shōjo, fans moved on to words like uke and seme. Yaoi parodies were well known among fans of both sexes, and fan art was much more polished. Individual artists hosted their artwork on their own web pages, although many people were creating accounts on deviantART as well. Since external hard drives have become reliable and relatively inexpensive, many fans downloaded fan-subbed anime series before those series made it to America (if in fact they ever did). Japanese language proficiency was on the rise, and groups of friends would get together to scanlate manga, which they hosted on aggregate sites like MangaFox. Anime conventions such as Otakon and Anime Expo were breaking attendance records for fan conventions, and American publishers and distributors like Tokyopop and ADV films were bending over backwards to meet fan demand. Retailers of imported Japanese goods sprung up all over the internet, and tons of dōjinshi were being imported from Japan and sold on eBay. In many ways, this was a golden age of anime fandom.

rynling: (Silver)
Yoshiura Yasuhiro, a brilliant rising anime director, recently turned a series of web shorts titled Patema Inverted into a feature-length film, as he did with his earlier project, Time of Eve. I've seen the film twice now, and it is beyond gorgeous.

I'm not sure how I feel about the distributor Anime Limited's Kickstarter campaign to release Patema Inverted in the UK. On one hand, the Kickstarter model makes me happy in that it gives more power to individual consumer-producers (ie, fans) and opens a forum for communication. On the other hand, I feel that professional licensing companies, who have economic and legal resources at their disposal that are largely unknown and unimaginable to the average fan, should shoulder the burden of publishing and promoting their properties without relying on or expecting fans to do their work for them.

I personally missed the opportunity to participate in the Kickstarter, so you might argue that I'm just bitter. That is indeed a valid argument, and it reinforces the point I'm trying to make, namely, that I shouldn't have to feel left out of this project. Anime Limited should have promoted this project more without touting it as an opportunity for "dedicated fans," who presumably don't need to rely on normal media outlets for release information, "to show their love and support." By closing off the project to all but the most dedicated fans, the distributor is in a sense marginalizing this release by suggesting that it is not of interest to a mainstream audience. 

Another problem with this particular Kickstarter project is that, while enthusiasm for and appreciation of anime is global, media territories are stridently regional, and it makes little sense to launch a campaign on an international crowdfunding platform for a media property that will be by law and by practice largely limited to the UK. Don't get me wrong; I contribute to many local campaigns that have nothing to do with the part of the world in which I'm currently living, from bringing drinking water to a certain community in Laos to protecting a small ground of trees in a certain park in Brooklyn to putting on an interesting and queer-friendly interpretation of a Shakespeare play in Edinburgh to placing a collection of Torres Strait Islander folktales in Australian libraries. That being said, I think film licensing is a bit of a different ballgame in that tangible barriers have been put up with the express purpose of preventing the flow of films across territories. In essence, before you launch an international campaign, it might make sense to ensure that you have a project that is in fact accessible to an international audience.     

An additional complaint I have concerning Kickstarter is that I find endless updates about endless delays infuriating, and that such messages are even more upsetting when they come from professional distributors, but that's a different story for a different day. 
rynling: (Default)
A major theme, if not the major theme, of The Wind Rises is that it's important to take the time to think deeply about one's mistakes. In fact, the majority of the film's action, as well as its most spectacular moments, involve its protagonist reflecting on something that went wrong and imagining how it could have been done differently for the purpose of rising to greater heights in the future.

Because The Wind Rises portrays Jiro Horikoshi, the creator of the Zero fighter plane, in a humanistic light, showing that he wasn't a bad person despite the planes he specifically developed as dogfighters being responsible for hundreds of American (and Chinese) deaths and later being adapted for kamikaze flights, there has been backlash against the film as being tactlessly nationalistic.

This both is and isn't true. The Wind Rises has a strong and crystal clear anti-war message and stages repeated criticism of the Japanese wartime government. The thought police who come after Jiro for no apparent reason are quite frightening, for example, and the military administration is portrayed as comically inept. In addition, while flight is obviously a thing of beauty, scenes of battle are accompanied by the same low vocal singing-chanting-droning noise that the viewer first comes to associate with the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which is nothing short of horrifying.

That being said, there is a measure of pride shown in the ability of certain Japanese citizens of the time to innovate even without adequate resources, to stand up to administrators from Western countries (specifically Germany) that will not treat them as equals, and to be almost superhumanly brave in the face of natural, political, and personal disasters. Despite the terrible uses to which the technology they developed was put, what Jiro Horikoshi and his colleague Kiro Honjo managed to achieve is breathtaking and profound. The director doesn't position these achievements as necessarily Japanese, but rather as achievements for the human race, as Jiro especially is influenced by the science, art, poetry, and songs of Western countries such as France and Italy, which were in close dialog with Japan during the opening decades of the twentieth century.

Like the 2011 Studio Ghibli film From Up On Poppy Hill, which shows students working together to restore an old building by cleaning out and washing away all of the old junk that has piled up inside it, The Wind Rises asks its audience to meditate on Japan's past in the same way that its protagonist carefully considers his own mistakes with the intention of not making them again as he moves into the future. The message seems to be that, if we can understand and take responsibility for what we did wrong, then it is perfectly natural for us to celebrate what we did right, as history is shaped not by the ponderous and incomprehensible movements of world powers but rather by the courage and small triumphs of individuals.


rynling: (Default)
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