Where I’ve been, Summer edition

Not a very big update this time, because I’ve already written about the major event that dominated my summer (well, winter, technically)! Actually, I also thought that I’d only have one thing to report, but looking back through WMC, it turns out that I’d built up a bit of a backlog of contributions there. I should really do a better job of crossposting them here ^^; In any case, here are four more behind-the-scenes pieces I’ve touched that came out this last quarter.

First up is another of those editorials on anime writing. When megax began putting together a series of posts on anime pre-production, I figured that it was time for the posts I’ve first envisioned when I began this project in April last year: From Story to Script.

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Featuring Aldnoah.Zero, Yuri!!! on ICE, SHIROBAKO and more!

The second and final piece in this series has been completed — I really don’t know when it’ll be published, but I’ll post it here as well as on twitter.

Following on from that, WMC ran a Lupin month, which you should all check out if you like any of the works in that long-running franchise. With help from Nachi-san, here’s an interview on the musical soundscape of Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, with Director Yamamoto Sayo and the Jazz maverick Kikuchi Naruyoshi whom she invited to do the music.

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A bit later that month, Josh published the first snippets of the Kizumonogatari work I’d been doing for him. It’s basically a glimpse of how words from a script make it to the final product that we see on the screen, so do check it out if you’re curious about how anime are made!

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And finally, I also helped frog-kun check the second part of an interview with Shinbo Akiyuki, on Le Portrait de Petit Cossette. It was quite a while back, actually, but it is a pretty interesting discussion between the famed director and the best anime journalist in the business: Oguro Yuuichirou. (And yes, that’s a nudge for you to follow him on twitter!)

What’s next?

That’s it for now. I was going to write that there wouldn’t be a Reflections on Summer post, as I didn’t actually pick up any of the season’s shows. But then I remembered that I have seen several anime films that did make their first appearances in the West this summer, so look out for that, along with a brief Ghibli retrospective!

I also have about 5 other translations at various stages of completion, though I have yet to decide where and when they’ll be posted. But just a little teaser: there will be a little Yuri!!! on ICE special next week, celebrating the first anniversary of the first episode that blew us all away! So do look forward to that (^_-)≡★

A Love Letter to 2016, part 7: the Kizumonogatari Inferno

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Next on my list is the film that arguably got me paying a little more attention to sakuga, that is, the animation aspect of anime: Kizumonogatari: Tekketsu-hen. I have to admit: the only reason I sat down to watch this one this year—rather than waiting to watch all three Kizu films at once—was that I found Nekketsu still playing at cinemas when I landed in Tokyo at the end of September. Having avoided most of the promotional material out of a desire not to spoil the experience, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. And this is the main thing I remembered:

Watching Nekketsu straight after that was a bit of a deflating experience, I have to admit. I think I just couldn’t get the impact of this scene out of my head, and I dearly wish I’d had the chance to see it on the big screen. I’m madly envious of all the US fans who got a theatrical release of both films back in October!

In any case, now that the second BD is out, we’re all just waiting for Reiketsu to drop. Japanese fans will get it in just one week! Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll be able to catch it at the cinema this time, and thus probably won’t be able to get hold of that third movie pamphlet to complete my collection. But I’ll still be grateful that I had that chance to see at least one film on the big screen, and hope that Madman will manage to bring all three Down Under one day.

Hence, it’s to the Kizumonogatari films that my seventh love letter of 2016 goes.

(First impressions) Kizumonogatari: Nekketsu

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I should probably admit: this film wasn’t initially on my “to see” list when I arrived in Japan late last month. I’ve actually fallen off the Monogatari bandwagon a little—even now, I’ve yet to watch Koyomimonogatari. I also figured that since it had arrived in Japanese theatres on August 19, and because it’s more niche than your name, it would have left Tokyo’s cinemas by the time I got there. As it turns out, I managed to catch it during the last week of screenings in Shinjuku, after hurriedly checking out Kizumonogatari: Tekketsu as well. Since then, as some of you will have noticed, I’ve been working on some of the interviews from the movie pamphlets that you can pick up in Japan.

But enough of the irrelevant background, and on to first impressions. Is Nekketsu worth seeing at the cinema? I’d say…that’s a definite ‘YES’. Read more of this post

Owarimonogatari: to know or not to know, that is the question

Ignorance is bliss. A cliche, certainly, but one that aptly describes how several Monogatari characters have spent much of their lives. In Sodachi Riddle, Araragi Koyomi learned that he had forgotten one of the key people who’d made him who he was, a girl who’d taught him the joy of mathematics, the one subject that had enabled him to have the school life he now enjoyed. In Shinobu Mail, the former Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-Under-Blade had to come to terms with her feelings for her first minion. And this ignorance is doubly damning because both Araragi and Shinobu were at the heart of the pain that this ignorance caused.

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The lesson shared through these characters is that this is not a mantra by which we should live our lives. Whilst Araragi’s ignorance of Sodachi’s problems in the past and Shinobu’s inability to understand the feelings of her minion gave them painful experiences when they each confronted these failures, doing so allowed them both to move on. The outcomes they achieved were not ideal, for the path towards ‘a happy ending’ was long gone. But coming to terms with these failures meant that they and the companions of their past were no longer stuck with the resentment of an unresolved relationship. Though the happiness they’d once sought was no longer possible, they were able to start moving forward once more.

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This is something that we can all do with our own lives. Realising where we have gone wrong can be painful, but the only way we can learn from such mistakes is to first know about them. Only then will we be able to make amends and move forward, with the resolve never to make the same mistake again.

Moments of 2015: The Confrontation

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As usual, the Monogatari moment for me came very late in Owarimonogatari, and of course, it also left me with a choice between two conversations I loved. Read more of this post

Ougi Formula: what is Araragi Koyomi to the Monogatari Series?

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The ‘prologue’ to the third and final season: “Ougi Formula”

Araragi Koyomi is a rather controversial character. Many people who don’t like the Monogatari Series seem to hate him, the epitome of the pretentious brat who Read more of this post

Tsukimonogatari: Ononoki Yotsugi and the shoe analogy

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Tsukimonogatari’s opening, “Orange Mint,” is probably my second favourite
Monogatari Series opening. Care to guess what my favourite is?

It’s been two weeks since I finished Tsukimonogatari, and I’m dying to start Owari, which is currently airing. I never expected this story, one that focuses on the poker-faced shikigami, Ononoki Yotsugi, to be even more difficult to write about than Otori was. Unlike Nadeko’s final chapter, however, Tsuki was problematic in a good way: there isn’t just one, or even two, but rather, no less than three different ideas that I wanted to muse about. The obvious one is Araragi’s dilemma; like all the other characters in the Second Season, our protagonist has been ‘lying’ to himself, with some unforeseen consequences that are undoubtedly a key part of Owari. Similarly, the idea of ‘dancing to someone else’s tune’ and the potential futility of our inclination to struggle against such a fate can only be fully explored once we know the extent to which Gaen and Kagenui’s machinations have been able to counter it. Hence, I’ll focus most of my attention here on the third theme, which is centered around Yotsugi and her own little ‘lie’. Of the lies I’ve mused about in relation to the ‘second season’ of this series, I’d argue that this one is the most interesting.

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“To be continued…”

Read more of this post

Hanamonogatari: revisiting the ‘show vs. tell’ debate

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It’s Kanbaru Suruga’s turn for her own crisis: but what lessons does it hold for us?

The core message of Hanamonogatari seems to be very straightforward: what’s the best way to solve the problems you face? Is the answer to run away, or to face the problem because running away means ‘losing’? Or is there some other approach that you can take? And what do you do when you come across someone who’s running away from a problem they face?

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Summary/Translation: Nishio Ishin Special Presentation (2011)

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The first of three Kizu films will grace Japan’s screens in January next year…
Anyone remember when it was originally meant to be released?

In commemoration of a date finally being announced for Kizumonogatari—well, for the first of the three Kizu movies—here’s an old translation/summary I finally updated: the Nishio Ishin Special Presentation on nico, broadcast online on September 15, 2011. To this day, I think this has not been included on any of the BD/DVD releases, though I believe you can still find it on nico. That’s where I first watched it, which is why there are a few mentions of nico viewer comments that the MC, Yoshida, doesn’t mention. This updated summary combines the two posts I wrote on Animesuki, and adds a few other details here and there. My comments are in the [square brackets] as usual.

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Opening narration (Araragi)

Apparitions are what make up our world, so unlike living things, they are connected to the world. You can’t shine a light on them with the tools of science alone. Just as a human that has been attacked by a vampire will continue existing forever, even if there is no darkness in this world that cannot be illuminated, darkness itself will never disappear.

Read more of this post

Koimonogatari and “The Road Less Travelled”

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Before I start, let me just say that this opening is fascinating. A brilliant creative decision – I’d love to find out exactly who came up with the idea!

As might be expected from an arc that once again features Kaiki Deshuu, this final story, Koimonogatari, is all about lies. The contents of the lies—of Sengoku Nadeko, Senjougahara Hitagi, and Kaiki himself—may be somewhat surprising, and we may be inclined to think of the latter as an unreliable narrator. However, Nisio Isin’s musings on what lies are and how humans use them once again raise some very pertinent questions about how we lead our lives. Read more of this post