Seirei no Moribito, Saraiya Goyou, Michiko to Hatchin, and Rose of Versailles

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Hey y’all, been watching a lot of shows but not talking about them. Here’s the index for my brief review / thoughts on some things:

Seirei no Moribito and Duty

Saraiya Goyou’s Perspective of Social Anxiety

Michiko to Hatchin and Being A Sexy Badass

Rose of Versailles and Meaninglessness of Living When We’re All Gonna Die Anyway

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Princess Nine: Carving Its Identity In Male-Dominated Sports (Anime)

Princess Nine comes in just below my favorite sports anime of all time, Ping Pong the Animation. What puts it above more popular titles such as Haikyuu or Kuroko no Basuke?

Simply put, girls.

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Obviously a huge part of the show has to revolve around the fact that it’s a girl’s baseball team, not softball team, but the extent to which Princess Nine capitalizes on its all-female protagonists is amazing. Princess Nine highlights and then conquers the patriarchal perspective on sports in general that women are inherently worse.

Before you call me a bra burner, let me clarify something— yes, it is true that women will tend to be worse at sports and be less physically strong because of biological constraints and societal pressures, but this does not mean that a best-of-the-century female baseball player cannot go toe-to-toe with male baseball players.

The underlying conflict of the show, particularly throughout the first half, is not Ryo versus her opponents or herself or anything like that, but overwhelming individual talent versus biological and societal differences between men and women. The Kisaragi Joshikou baseball team is comprised of multiple girls who possess amazing talent worthy of rivaling many of the top male baseball players, and at their head is Ryo, whose ability is equaled only by her pitcher-of-the-century father, and it is their struggle against the patriarchy (smash the patriarchy!) that lies as the backdrop to its narrative.

When they are given the opportunity to participate in Koshien, this conflict largely becomes relegated to the background as we are hit with a level of inter-character drama that I can’t say I’ve seen in any other sports anime to such an extent, but which really makes me question how much Princess Nine truly is a “sports anime” in the way we think about. With the first nine episodes of Princess Nine going without actually seeing a baseball game, and beyond that only showing four baseball games across about six of the twenty-six episodes, Princess Nine makes its clear priority the romance and drama over the sport itself, something that comes both as a welcome relief since so many sports anime concentrate so purely on the sport, and as a hindrance to the gravity of the games themselves, since they are built up so little as to make their ultimate outcomes seem, at times, predictable and/or unrealistic. It is a wonder that the impairment of the Kisaragi Joshikou baseball team being all girls is not enough already, and that they have the time between practicing to have so much drama at all. The combination of these two makes Princess Nine seem, at times, a bit too “anime” in its presentation of the overall story, but this is largely unnoticeable by the effectiveness of the drama that is taking the place of the sports.
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This kind of storytelling, which balances being undeniably about a sport with being overwhelmingly not just presentation of that sport, is incredibly distinct— if it has been done before to the extent it is done here, I have not seen it, and generally I’m a huge sucker on gender commentary stuff sooo you know go that.

Speaking of being a huge tsundere toward feminism because I totally am a liberal cuck while pretending to not be one, I have zero issue with the arc of Ryo and Izumi playing worse because they are lovesick at the ending. This is because, A. People are lovesick in real life, regardless of gender, so it’s believable, B. It’s kind of awesome to see a sports competition come to a head with romance, because this wouldn’t be possible without there being an openly same-gender relationship or having a female team competing against a male team on even ground. It’s fucking great.

Being done on the subject of freshmen in high school, it isn’t surprising that Princess Nine is largely a coming of age story. Izumi’s ultimate decision at the end to give up her pretend-relationship with Hiroki and to admit defeat in the battlefield of romance to Ryo, is a powerful demonstration of character development, maturity, and the strengthening of her friendship and rivalry with Ryo. She, ultimately, is nearly as much a main character to Princess Nine as Ryo is, largely because her character growth is so intricate in contrast with Ryo’s fairly common arc of becoming strong without any man to help her and just becoming strong in general really. Because her and Ryo’s screen time overwhelm those of the other girls, it would already be difficult to fault the show for making the other teammates so cliché and seemingly unsuited to baseball.

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However, giving them their own spotlight, I have only criticism to give. After all, how is it remotely possible that an aspiring fashion model with no pension for physical fitness could, even after a couple months of intensive training, come close to the aptitude that the best baseball teams in the nation have? How is it possible that a girl whose time is largely spent pursuing academics and who has repeatedly been turned away from baseball by her father, can still be one of the best catchers on the team? I’ll believe that Mao got good because we saw her training at catching really fucking hard, but it seems all Yoko had to do to prove herself as a worthy teammate was take baseball seriously for one moment. For that matter, though, I think it would’ve been nice to see everybody, Ryo included, training a little harder than they did. Izumi seems to be the one putting in the most effort in training and it was also shown that she was an extremely fast learner and already physically fit, so how did she ultimately end up as just a heavy slugger and not by far and away the best hitter on the team?

There was a storytelling technique I saw here that was never precisely predictable, but extremely awesome to pick up on. Whenever one conflict is happening, another is, always. They come in pairs and they come strong. When the press come at Kisaragi Joshikou and Ryo because of her father’s scandal, she ends up hospitalized too. Both the conflict with Kisaragi and Ryo are happening at once. When Ryo and Izumi are hung up on Hiroki, Koharu also struggles with her father’s poor health. This is constant throughout the show, and something I may try to use myself.

This has no cohesive point about Princess Nine, as you can tell. I just have a lot of specific thoughts that aren’t worthy of their own posts but that all make me excited about Princess Nine in general. Cheers!

P.S. Can you tell by the pictures etc that I really love Izumi?

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Chroniko’s Boots – How Kaiba Portrays a Corrupt Society

Episode 3 of Kaiba, Chroniko’s Boots is brimming with pathos, to a nearly jarring extent from the preceding episode. It portrays how family and society both have taken advantage of an impoverished girl and then analyzes how riddled with guilt the aunt, Negi, is who encouraged Chroniko to sell her body. Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 21.45.25.png

So, I’ve seen others interpret this differently, but I assumed that when or before Chroniko was sold, Negi knew it would mean her death (or effective death— we can assume that spending an eternity without a body as a collection of fractured memories is pretty comparable to death). That explains why she was crying and felt so much guilt over the affair— she had participated in the death of the girl she had raised as her daughter. This cruel and unjust action is then spun on its head, as we see the events prior to Negi turning bitter and preferring her own children to Chroniko.

Chroniko is clearly the representation of innocent youth— she is a young girl who openly brags about a gift from her aunt in spite of it being one of her aunt’s only demonstrations of love toward her. Beyond this, she is willing to abandon her own body for the sake of her family. While she did not know this was a death sentence, it was established in the first episode how miserable life can be stuck in a collection of body-less faces or how many people remained trapped as tiny memory chips for years and we can assume she resigned herself to this fate knowingly and willingly. Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 21.42.46.png

In Chroniko’s Boots, society continues to be affirmed as corrupt by having bodies sold for cash— specifically how Chroniko’s body is sold to a pedophile. No, really, they say that in the show—Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 21.48.47.pngThe society in Kaiba here is portrayed as the corruption of capitalism with all of the wealth and power belonging to a tiny number of rich people and none of the wealth or power belonging to anybody else. While Chroniko did sell her body of her own accord (though she didn’t expect it to entail her memories being released), the blatant message is that it is wrong of society to allow such things to happen and if society had a higher bare minimum for the standard for living, the tragedy of Chroniko being sold for money would never have happened in the first place.

We see that Negi wanted Chroniko gone since she was unwanted and a burden on the family— a sentiment which initially puts her at the forefront of blame over the whole society. This is immediately subverted with an ultimate re-emphasis on society as the one to blame as Kaiba steps into her memories to find how Negi was once kind and loving but with the loss of her arms and death of her husband she became cynical and jaded toward the world and ultimately grew to despise Chroniko as “one more mouth to feed” as she expresses initially. The reassignment of blame and then subversion thereof serves to strengthen the message of society being at fault for this happening.  Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 22.28.18.png

When it is revealed in episode 6 that Kaiba is definitively supposed to be the king, Warp, (we already knew Kaiba was Warp, but we didn’t know for sure who Warp was until now) there is a sudden disconnect as viewers consider this episode— Kaiba is demonstrated to be kind and empathic, so how could he have let society come to a point where the masses consider him an oppressive dictator and selling the bodies of children to pedophiles is acceptable?

As a side thought, perhaps part of the reason Kaiba empathized so thoroughly with Chroniko is that he felt he had experienced the same thing? After all, he felt as though his mother had betrayed him by poisoning him. Just something to consider.

Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda Ep 12: The Fujoshi Zone

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 01.10.51.pngSoulmates, that is what Serinuma calls Nishina. They’re soulmates. Not lovers, not friends, but soulmates. It seems this grey zone between a friendly relationship and a romantic one if where Nishina stands in Serinuma’s eyes. Even when they are going on the date in Episode 12, Serinuma expresses that Nishina is “fun to be around.”

Actually, let’s take a look at her date.

For Nishina, this is her chance to express her love for Serinuma, and she does the whole set up right. She reserves a whole boat, plane flight, dress, all of it for a truly “proper” date. She is dressed to impress.

Her first line of dialogue is introducing the place. She’s rehearsed that. Serinuma needs to know where she is, after all, right? She even makes it halfway through her next line— “When I see such beautiful scenery…”

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And then comes yaoi pairings. She was so close to pulling a romantic line, but then it comes out as yaoi. I can reiterate the lesbian undertones of fujoshi culture a million times, but it won’t change that concretely, roleplaying and imagining male / male sexual contact is not the same thing as legitimately engaging in sexual contact.

Nishina had the lesbian fujoshi crutch— she was immediately the closest to Serinuma and attempted to use this fujoshi connection to grab Serinuma romantically. Yet ever since the kiss, Serinuma has persistently emphasized their friendship as fellow fujoshi over romantic interest, and before long Nishina found herself satisfied with being Serinuma’s soulmate.

By satisfied, I’m not implying Nishina only wants friendship, but she has convinced herself that she can’t have anything more. Do you know what this is called?

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Now, to be clear, one could argue the whole cast of Watashi Ga Motete struggles with “the friend zone,” but Nishina is the only one who actively perpetuates her friend zone.

Igarashi is the most vocally against the state of things. He repeatedly seizes opportunities to bond with Nishina and had a clear-cut goal of becoming her boyfriend.

Nana and Shinomiya are similarly romantically-minded— most of the things they do, while not as suave as Igarashi, have the same goal of impressing Nishina into falling in love with them. Nana achieves this impression through his charisma and situational decision-making, and Shinomiya succeeds through his adorkable failure to properly ‘man up’ to the situation.

Mutsumi, ever since discovering his love for Serinuma, is calm but clear. He has no difficulty expressing his love or his thoughts toward Serinuma, but is also fine with casually being with her. He would come closest to being a “romantic companion” as opposed to a “boyfriend,” if that makes sense.

He views his innocent companionship as an entirely separate issue and tackles his attraction to Serinuma by simply expositing her it.

And what is Nishina doing? Talking about BL? What happened, girl? You were her first kiss! You had such a great shot! And now you’re struggling to come up with topics?

Simply put, Nishina has done more than just put herself squarely in the friend zone. She has put herself in the fujoshi zone. Here, she cannot escape, for the only way she knows anymore how to express her interest in Serinuma is through pairings, thus perpetuating her friendship.

It isn’t a miscommunication, it’s a vicious cycle that Nishina has put herself in since she and Serinuma made up with their reversible pairing argument. Since Nishina’s strong point from the start was BL, she returns to it in an attempt to preserve Serinuma’s interest in her. Yet at this point, Serinuma has accustomed herself to this as a gesture of friendship, and Nishina finds her hopes of romance falling away.

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Think about it— the date wasn’t her only opportunity. She had the whole time at the hot springs! Heck, given how much she and Serinuma talk about conventions, surely they go to some BL places or at least traverse Otome Road without the others, right?

Of course this is all speculation, but these are par for the course for any good fujoshi friends. Yet in none of these situations has Nishina pulled anything on Serinuma. It’s because they are all BL-centered.

After she herself made it clear that she was serious and would take advantage of any opportunity to attract Serinuma, Nishina set the world of BL off-limits for her. After all, it was the foundation of the deep trust she had accumulated with Serinuma. At the start she had no issue putting it on the line— their fujoshi friendship was just a crutch. But as that friendship deepened, Nishina realized she had to separate BL and romance.

In fact, going back to Episode 6, there is the moment where Nishina’s mind changes. Her original intent with their competition was to assert her superiority and cut ties with the BL side of Serinuma and leave with only romance. Instead, she realized that these two— the BL and romance, were connected.

If she were to throw dirt in the face of BL-loving Serinuma, she would too be throwing dirt in the face of potential girlfriend Serinuma. This was not an option. Therefore, Nishina made it clear to herself that from then on she would not interfere with their fujoshi friendship.screen-shot-2016-12-25-at-02-29-42

This was all fine and well, but in doing so, suddenly their fujoshi friendship became a source of comfort. Sure, she could risk their net relationship by making a romantic move, or she could simply maintain their current state by continuing to be a fujoshi buddy.

Furthermore, in a place like Otome Road or at a convention, Nishina would have strictly been in fujoshi-mode. Therefore, her prime opportunity to change up her pace was ruined by her own conviction that fujoshi friendship and romance remain different issues.

What first excited me about Nishina in Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda was how she was the embodiment of Mizoguchi’s Reading and Living Yaoi theory. In her fujoshi rapport, she was able to establish an immediate (lesbian) sexual connection, and then leverage this by bringing that virtual lesbianism into material lesbianism.

Yet, by the canon of the anime, this has simultaneously been her downfall. Because Nishina established herself upon virtual lesbianism and not material lesbianism, in her efforts to stay with Serinuma she has reverted to a state of pure virtual lesbianism. Pure fantasy.

The difficulty Hato had with their relationship with Madarame was chiefly that they were uncertain of the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Their best times with Madarame were the times they were most real, most concrete. It is when Hato had a real conversation with Madarame, shooting the shit about whatever, or when Madarame really blushed at receiving Hato’s chocolates.

And, accordingly, it is when Hato was most in the world of fantasy that they were unsuccessful in wooing Madarame. The whole worry about “Hato x Mada” as opposed to “Mada x Hato?” Purely in the realm of theory.

It appears history has repeated itself— Nishina was most succesful when she concretely gave Serinuma a kiss, and she was least successful when she reverted to the fujoshi mindset to stay comfortable with Serinuma.

This is the fujoshi zone.

Bungou Stray Dogs S1 + S2, Baby Steps S2, Trigun, and Paprika

We’re doing another Things I’ve Seen Recently! Woo.

BY THE WAY, THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THESE SERIES HERE.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

Bungou Stray Dogs Seasons 1 and 2:

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So, since the end of Bungou Stray Dogs came out recently I decided to watch all of Season 1 and 2. First of all, this show is definitely one of the more normie anime I’ve seen. It’s basically an X-Men kind of world but with cooler powers and more of an appeal to younger audiences.

This strongly strikes me as something that 12 y/o me would have really loved. As it is, I definitely feel the effects of plot armor, crappy animation, and edgy characterization.

That said, it was still fun. The animation was kind of crappy, but I’m a total sucker for the over-saturated, near-KyoAni style of art. If I started thinking about the plot much, I kind of realized how flawed and childish it was, but the show was engaging enough that I didn’t think too hard about things.

I personally liked the first season more than the second. The strongest parts of the show, to me, were where Atsushi was going on an episode-long adventure with somebody. It also made it interesting to see how he battled paired up with different characters.

The whole second season’s story arc was more strongly present, and I don’t think the plot was grabbing enough to make me accept it in lieu of the more episodic adventures of the first season.

Oh, and the Agency boy who’s super strong reminded me a lot of Kousaka from Genshiken which made all of his lines way funnier than they should have been.

Baby Steps Season 2:

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I had originally seen all of Baby Steps Season 1, but I dropped the series part way through Season 2. My mother loves tennis, so since we’ve been watching anime together, we ended up watching through all of Season 1 again and then I got to see all of Season 2.

My biggest concern with Season 2 of Baby Steps I think is that it was coming out so slowly that I had forgotten it by the next time an episode came out. Rewatching it at a more rapid pace was really great, and I’m reminded of how good of a sports anime Baby Steps is.

The downright atrocious animation doesn’t do it any favors, but I don’t think any other sports anime is as realistic in its characterization nor as interesting in its story arcs as Baby Steps is.

Well, maybe Ping Pong, but that’s a whole different story. Anyway, now grabbed by the plot, I found myself really happy to see Natsuo’s confession scene and surprisingly engaged by how awesome Maruo got by the end of the show.

I love all of the emphasis on making tennis into a career the story has. The most inspiring stories, to me, are ones where someone works as hard as they can and are rewarded by becoming a professional in the career they want to pursue the most. That’s effectively what Baby Steps is about, and it does a damn convincing job in engaging me in its narrative.

I’m not expecting a third season given how little critical success Baby Steps has had, so I’ll probably pick up the manga from here on out. Good recommendation, though, Digibro!

Trigun:

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I loved the first arc of Trigun. Actually, my criticism of it is similar to that of Bungou Stray Dogs. In my opinion, the best episodes of Trigun are the episodic ones, and as a result the second half of the series suffers massively.

How the series goes full edgelord doesn’t help things, either, since I really get impatient with shows that try to be edgy. If it’s legitimately dark like Texhnolyze, that’s a different story. It’s a fine line, and I don’t think Trigun balances it well.

That said, I like the character arc of Vash in the second half. I don’t like the story, but I like the character. Vash confronting his own morality is an interesting subject and feels precisely like what I would imagine an immortal character’s story arc looking like.

The best parts of the show, to me, are by far where Vash is able to succeed in saving the day through his off-the-wall antics. I really was able to buy in to the comedy and I was largely satisfied with the upbeat mood of the show.

Paprika:

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Best for last. I loved Paprika. It’s by far the best animated thing I have seen in a while and has a really fucking cool plotline using the familiar dream device we’re already familiar with.

Honestly I feel like I can’t say much about this movie until I watch it again. It’s such a visual experience and delves into some really cool psychology. I’ll talk about it more at another time when I have more finalized feelings about it.

Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda Ep 11: Why So Surprised, Everyone?

So in Episode 11 of Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda, as predicted from earlier, Mutsumi-Senpai has now confessed to Serinuma! Oh wow! Shocker!

Wait a moment, why are they surprised though? Nishina already confessed!

Now the obvious answer is because aside from rearranging the order a bit, the anime is just adapting the manga page-for-page, but let’s take this seriously and consider the only thing that could be implied from this in the canon of the show: nobody is taking Nishina seriously.

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Actually, seriously, what happened, both in the manga and in the anime? Nishina makes it clear from the word “go” that she’s in it for hawt lesbo secks, but ever since here her relationship with Serinuma has seemed strangely platonic. The only place where the audience is even reminded she has romantic feelings for Serinuma is when Igarashi refuses to let her spend the night in the same room as Serinuma. That was several episodes ago, now.

Let me go out on a limb, having read the manga, and predict how they’re going to end the show. At the start of Chapter 22 it’s revealed that everyone confesses to Serinuma, so that was my bet from the start as to how they’d end things. That’s precisely why it was such a big deal that Nishina confessed first— in the manga canon, nobody wants anybody else to be the first and so they all confess their love together, but in the anime Nishina beat even Mutsumi to the punch by about five episodes.

But now, here, nobody should be so taken aback by Mustumi’s confession. He wasn’t the first, even. Maybe it was more offhanded earlier, but to dismiss Nishina’s “I love you” as just a friendly manner means that she might as well remove herself from the harem as a whole. I don’t know about anybody else here, but if I’m romantically attracted to someone, when I say “I love you” to them I don’t mean it in a friendship or familial way. Yet for Nishina, one must relegate her “I love you” in the anime to a mere indication of friendship and nothing more, which immediately eliminates her from the big question of “Who does Serinuma choose?”Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 17.23.04.png

(This isn’t to say friendship can’t develop into romance or that friendship love and romantic love are mutually exclusive, but typically romantic love is the route of “I love you”s over friendship love.)

Of course, there is one alternative. One that might make Nishina the most realistic character in the harem! Join me next time on Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda Episode 12 to find out what.

Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda Ep 6 Changes Everything!

So in the manga for WataMote 2.0, it is chapter 22 when all of the main cast confess their love to Serinuma. In fact, they do it altogether so Senpai’s confession isn’t special. However, in the anime, this part has been skipped over or at least place differently chronologically. The anime’s first five episodes adapted chapters 1-12 of the manga, and in episode six it skips to chapters 23-24.

At the end of chapter 24, and thereby episode 6, Nishina says, “I love you, Senpai” to Serinuma. In the manga this is fine— she just said that two chapters ago anyway. This one is a little more special since it’s from just her, but it really isn’t that big of a deal.

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But in the anime, chapter 22 has been skipped, meaning the rest of the cast has not yet confessed to Serinuma. Now, it’s only Nishina who has. This is relevant since the harem members made such a big deal already out of not letting the others beat them to their confession in the manga, but by the anime’s canon Nishina has already beaten them. Now, she doesn’t just have the advantage of first kiss. She has the advantage of first confession!

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In the depressing deluge that was the resolution to the Madarame harem in Genshiken, Madarame points out how important it is that even though all these people are around him and seem to like him, Sue was the first and only one to confess. And guess what? She (sadly) won.

Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda is the second chance for Madarame’s harem for me, as I excitedly outlined previously. But for this one, Hato (Nishina) stands a fighting chance.

MadaHatoMadaHato NishiNumaNishiNuma MadaHato MadaHato NishiNumaNishinuma!!!