A third look at Usagi Drop

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Rush hour!

The Usagi Drop film, with Matsuyama Ken’ichi and Ashida Mana as the mismatched pair building a life together, was released in 2011 amidst the spotlight associated with the ending of the manga series. Even though it’s taken me a couple of years to finally sit down an watch this film, I’m taking it as a blessing in disguise, for it allows me to once again reflect on the themes that Unita Yumi seems to have been concerned with. Most viewers — myself included — celebrated the anime for its heartwarming story about how Kawachi Daikichi, a young man on the rise in his company, learned how to be a father even through the sacrifices he had to make, and the film can certainly be read in exactly the same way.

However, in the time that I’ve since had to think about the controversial ending of the manga, I’ve started seeing far more complex ideas and messages in this story. And these are also reflected in the film: even though the movie gives Daikichi male peers who dote on their young children, as errinundra observed, he isn’t learning how to be a father, but rather how to be a single, working mother. In fact, Daikichi isn’t just learning how to be a single mother, he’s learning about the constrained choices that confront women in Japanese society. Read more of this post

Ao Haru Ride: Catching the Breeze of One’s Youth

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Blue Spring Ride [Ao Haru Ride] revolves around Futaba, a girl who was in love with a boy named Tanaka Kou in middle school. However, before anything can begin, he suddenly transfers schools over summer vacation. In high school, her world is turned around once again when she meets Kou again, this time under the name of Mabuchi Kou.

One thing I find interesting about Blue Spring Ride is that, although quite a few people who read Sakisaka Io’s works like Strobe Edge better, it was her current series that got green lit for an anime and a movie (the Strobe Edge film seems to be a bonus, almost as if producers were gunning for flow on success). But if I think about the themes that are covered in both series, then I think that decision was the right one. Strobe Edge really was all about ‘falling in love’ — that’s what the entire story is centred around. On the other hand, Blue Spring Ride has as its foundation a story about relationships between friends and family. And the strength of this foundation is demonstrated by the anime, which is built almost entirely on it. Read more of this post

Looper: sometimes, it’s just better to suspend disbelief

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Sometime far in the future, in a world where telekinesis has manifested itself amongst the population through a genetic mutation, technology has progressed to the point where all people are tracked, which makes it difficult for them to disappear. With the invention of time travel, the mob of that time solves this conundrum sending its targets backwards into the past. There, hooded and bound, they are killed by young hired guns whose reward is the silver strapped to their backs. These young men are known as loopers, for their own older selves are eventually sent back to be killed, for a final golden payday before they are free to live out the rest of their lives as they wish.

Joe is one such young man, though also one who dreams of a more cultured and meaningful life for himself after retirement. But then comes the day when his future returns to haunt his present life…

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Footnote: perils of academia

There was another post that I’d wanted to write tonight…but there’s no way I can finish that before this one. Not because I liked this title more, but simply because I need to get it out of my head before it screws with my thoughts any further. Though I’m not entirely I’ll be able to do that…

The film in question is Footnote, an Israeli offering about two academics, father and son, with contrasting and irreconcilable approaches to the same, extremely narrow, field: Talmudic scholarship. The father, having spent many years on a single project only to be beaten to publication by the chance find of a rival, now seethes at the popularity and recognition accorded to his son, whose focus and methods he despises. Having hungered for the Israel Prize for years, his bitterness at never receiving it has translated into a stream of criticism that it has lost its value. What happens, then, when a bureaucratic error results in the father being awarded the prize instead of his son?

The greatest pain of an academic: when someone publishes your findings before you do…

Note that this is probably a film that’s impossible to talk about without spoiling the ending…and knowing this one really will spoil the experience, so I really would recommend that staying away unless you have already seen it.

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Sakamichi no Apollon: the curse of noitaminA strikes again?

Don’t you love those musical notes and symbols?

When it was announced that Watanabe Shinichirou and Kanno Youko would be teaming up again for the first time since Cowboy Bebop, and for a series centered around jazz, parts of the Western anime fandom exploded in reverent anticipation. Whilst Kanno has remained quite prominent as an anime music composer, Watanabe has only directed a handful of shows over the years, and English-speaking fans were understandably excited about the prospect of another series that could go down in history. However, when it was confirmed that Apollon would only have the standard 12 episodes of the noitaminA block, fear and disappointment replaced those formerly positive emotions. There was no way that the manga’s 9 volumes could fit into just 12 episodes, right?

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Tsuritama: Eno-shima-DON!!

‘Fishing…ball…?’
I’m not surprised they didn’t even try translating it…

Despite a youth of constant relocation, Yuki is still unused to meeting new people and all the attention that comes with it. When he comes to Enoshima and is befriended by an alien who transfers into his school at the same time, the potential for embarrassing situations increases exponentially. But all that alien really wants to do is fish – how does this translate into a situation where four vastly different people come together to save the world? (Not a spoiler, honest – Yuki, the main character, brightly reveals this to us in the first episode).

If this doesn’t tell you what kind of show this is…
I kid, I kid – it’s not some kind of ‘power rangers’ show…I think… ^^;

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In memory of 2011 その2: りんちゃん可愛い!!!!

Smart, cute, pretty, sensible...can someone like Rin-chan really exist?

Whilst I was not quite as invested in Usagi Drop as some other viewers were – I suspect that it may well be because I’m not a parent and thus am not as appreciative of Daikichi’s awe-inspiring actions – it was incredibly soothing each week to watch Rin and Daikichi in the life they were creating together. Rin, in particular, with her sensibility, her precociousness and developing sense of humour, and above all, her unbridled joy at even the simplest things, really brought home the importance of all the little things in life, because those are what makes life worthwhile.