Reflections on Winter and Pick that Voice!!
April 9, 2017 4 Comments
Of course, there is one show that will not show up here, because it deserves several essays of its own. But even if we hadn’t had the wonderful story that is Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, winter wouldn’t have been so bad. In fact, the season that has just began looks to be even drier for me. Well, I’ll gladly take the opportunity to keep watching Yamamoto Sayo’s previous offerings, whilst also savouring a bit more of The Eccentric Family!
But before I get to those, here’s most of my winter 2017 viewing experience!
Let’s celebrate Mr. Hayashida!!
It feels really good to be laughing and crying to an Umino Chika work once again. I will always remember Honey and Clover for how it managed to make me both laugh and cry in the space of half an episode. March Comes in like a Lion has not done the same thing yet—and the unique, stylised tone of Shinbo Akiyuki’s SHAFT may be one of the reasons for that—but the little lessons that Umino manages to incorporate in her new work always resound with me.
|March Comes in like a Lion|
This time, I’d like to point out what Hayashida told Rei here, because it’s a lesson I actually learned in real life as well. “Do your best” is a phrase that we often fall back upon when trying to encourage the people around us. But as Hayashida points out here, sometimes, they aren’t the right words to use. If the person you’re trying to encourage is already trying their best, then the message they will take is, in fact, that their best simply isn’t good enough. That Hayashida realised this and found a different way to help Rei is testament to how good he is as a mentor, and I look forward to seeing how he will continue to help guiding Rei towards a future where he can finally say that he loves playing shogi.
Realism in my Gundam?!
Let me preface this by saying that, as of writing, I have absolutely no idea how other viewers have reacted to Iron-Blooded Orphans. For this finale, I made sure that I muted all the keywords and hashtags that I could think of, in order to make sure that no one would spoil me, and I wrote this particular reflection just hours after finishing the show. Overall, I thought it was a fitting end, one that made sense given the path the various characters had taken in the final third of the show. Dreams were dashed, sacrifices made so that others could live on, and I suspect that many other viewers would take umbrage at what happened with one character in particular.
|Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans|
Personally, though, I appreciated how realistic it was—the strong do what they can and the weak do what they must. But change does come as a result of the struggle, slow though it may be, and through sacrifices that you would rather not have needed to make. And even then, it’s often a matter of taking three steps forward and two steps back. I’m still not sure how I feel about the person who came out on top—mostly because I’m struggling to remember if he’d been portrayed as a person who’d take the path he supposedly takes.
However, it would also make sense if it was a practical decision instead of an idealistic one: Gjallarhorn had to change, and no matter what we think of Rustal Elion, he has taken it in a direction that we should approve of. Our own world’s history is littered with people like him, counterbalanced with people like Kudelia, who are idealistic, but hopefully, also practical. That’s the complicated way that our world works, and I can only applaud Nagai and co. for daring to go there.
Mmm…Ono Natsume’s men…(and Tsuda Kenjirou’s voice…)
|ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.|
Just like Ono’s previous work—2012’s House of Five Leaves—ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept. is the kind of show that I always have trouble writing about. But now I think I have the perfect word for it. Sophistication—there’s just a real, subtle maturity infused in every episode. The first half of the show felt really slow…but at the same time, I had a feeling that a lot of information was there in plain sight. And there were indeed several points towards the end that made me want to go back and watch it again—in all the free time I have… It may not be for everyone—and the details about its production give more than a little cause for worry—but I really do recommend it for anyone who wants more adults in their anime!
Oh, and I didn’t actually have anything more to say on TsudaKen’s voice, just mmm….
It’s a selfish kind of love, isn’t it?
|Scum’s Wish [Kuzu no Honkai]; manga/anime|
Scum’s Wish really wasn’t a series for me. A number of friends in my Twitter circle seemed to find the various depictions of that selfish, possessive love raw and realistic. Personally, those warped relationships only left me thinking just how ironic it is that we label this kind of bond with the term ‘romantic’—these are ‘romantic relationships’, formed between people who feel ‘romantic love’ for each other. In English, ‘romance’ has an idealistic connotation that I feel is not as prominent in the way that Japanese people understand ren’ai (which is the Japanese term for ‘romantic love’). I’ve written about this before, but ren’ai seems to be considered a shallow, selfish kind of love that exists at the start of so-called romantic relationships, one that will hopefully develop into a genuine, understanding and giving love (ai). That this distinction usually isn’t captured in translation is one of the reasons I’ve avoided the discourse around several series over the last couple of years.
However, I did find the ending of Scum’s Wish quite fitting. It really was the only choice that Mugi and Hanabi could have made. That said, I’m not sure how I feel about the announcement that there will be side story…and not just one chapter in the collected manga volume, but actually serialised in Big GanGan. I hope it covers one of the side characters instead—perhaps Sanae (Ecchan) and Atsuya? I’d even be ok with something on Moka, provided we don’t get an OVA or drama CD. To me, getting a continuation of Mugi and Hanabi’s story amounts to a betrayal of what Yokoyari Mengo seemed to be saying in that final chapter; that’s exactly why it’s the last thing I want to see…though perhaps Yokoyari can convince me otherwise…
We are are own worst nightmare
|From the New World [Shinsekai Yori]|
I’ve decided to try to tick one show off my backlog each season from now on. And this time, it was From the New World. Now I finally understand why so many people were bringing it up as a comparison in discussions about Psycho-Pass, for the questions that it raised about human society, psychology and politics gave me plenty of food for thought. What particularly grabbed me was the commentary on how we create our own nightmares—it’s a theme that has resounded from the ancient Greek story of Oedipus, in which a prophecy was fulfilled precisely because those involved had tried to avoid it. If I ever write more about From the New World, I’ll go into depth on the three ways in which it went about this.
Nevertheless, to me, I still prefer Psycho-Pass. One reason for this is that From the New World was exposition heavy—it had characters explaining so many things about the world that I sometimes found my attention wandering. However, the other and more important reason is that Psycho-Pass is far more current. As I noted back in 2012, the question that show posed— ‘how should we deal with authoritarian systems?’—was particularly thought-provoking precisely because it was left unanswered. Political change is not easy, and will typically feature compromises that are anathematic to you. But it is important for us to remember this, lest we think that change is just about getting to that first ‘fair and free’ election. It just isn’t that simple. It never is.
And Pick that Voice!!
I totally slacked off this season… Well, I don’t think it helped that I saw most of the names for ACCA before I actually heard them in the PVs. Ah well…
ACCA PV – Suwabe Jun’ichi
Altair PV – Murase Ayumu, Tsuda Kenjirou
ACCA 1 — Ohkawa Tohru
March Lion 12 — Nakamura Yuuichi
ACCA 3 — Miyano Mamoru
March Lion 16 — Tsuda Kenjirou
I did pick up some people from older shows I watched though, like
KonoSuba 8 — Horie Yui
And just about everyone from I’ve always liked you:
Tamotsu Haruka, Kamiya Hiroshi, Kaji Yuuki, Suzumura Ken’ichi, Amamiya Sora, Midorikawa Hikaru