Hamatora and Re:␣Hamatora: Let’s keep this nice and quick…

NB: Hamatora is another of those mixed media projects, though as far as I can tell, it only had a complementary manga...?
NB: Hamatora is another of those mixed media projects, though as far as I can tell, it only had a complementary manga…?

(Summary from ANN) “Minimum” – a special inborn power found in a limited number of human beings, known as “minimum holders.” In Yokohama, the detective team Hamatora, formed by two minimum holders named Nice and Murasaki, comes across information connected to a serial killer being pursued by their old friend Art. It turns out all the victims are minimum holders like them. Unwillingly at first, the two detectives become involved in the investigation.

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UN-GO and the nature of truth

Episode 6:
From Sakaguchi Ango’s “UN-GO”
A Code Too Simple

What is ‘Truth’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth)? Is it necessarily something that is in “agreement with fact and reality”? That is the same no matter how one looks at it? No matter who looks at it?

Or is ‘Truth’ something that is subjective? Something that tends to be interpreted in different ways depending on what one knows about the situation or item in question?

This debate is something that I’ve been turning over in my head for at least the past year and a half, especially after an incident in real life showed me just how easy it is for people to misconstrue something when they are not aware of all relevant information about it. Thus, when I first saw the sixth episode of UN-GO, where the apparent answer changes as each new clue is revealed. Most significantly, bereft of the certain key pieces of information, Yuuki Shinjurou automatically assumes the worst of Kaishou and just about accuses him of letting some children die…

By not doing anything, you effectively let them die.

Warning: major spoilers for UN-GO 6.

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Baccano! and the unfortunate paradox of innovative storytelling

I had planned to write about Chihayafuru for the next two weeks…but the last few chapters of the manga (specifically, 90-92) have thrown a spanner in those works…

Well, that’s one of the reasons I’m tackling Baccano! first – the other being that it’s been on my backlog for way too long. Baccano! had slipped under my radar until I watched the adaptation of creator Narita Ryougo’s other notable series, Durarara!!, whereupon almost everyone who’d seen the former lamented that the latter had not quite lived up to the high standards it had set. And now, more than two years later, I’ve finally sat down to find out why.

"You must throw it away, the illusion that a story must have a beginning and an end."

But where to begin? That is a brilliant question. And one that cannot be answered. As Gustave Saint Germain intones in the final episode

Stories have no beginning, nor do they have an end. All they have are people connecting with each other, working with each other, affecting each other, and the expansion of those connections throughout the world. Stories must never have an end.

Similarly, there is no main protagonist. Or perhaps, you could say that everyone is potentially the main protagonist, for the perspective of any story changes depending on the the position one views it from.

But let’s give it a shot anyway.

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In memory of 2011 その10: 「UN-GO」と安吾、真理は何だろう?

UN-GO is, in my humble opinion, the most interesting anime series broadcast on TV this year. Despite there being many reputedly excellent shows that slipped me by, ending up on my backlog, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that none of them will be as philosophically challenging and interesting as UN-GO.

I’m not sure how many people realised, but the title of ‘UN-GO’, which you pronounce as if they are English words rather than Japanese (i.e. ‘un’ as in ‘unlike’ rather than the うん used as a casual ‘yes’ in Japan), is a direct reference to the author who wrote the stories upon which most of the cases were based. Apparently, the essays of Sakaguchi Ango are required reading for high schools in Japan, though I certainly don’t recall hearing about them when I was there. Possibly a result of my school being quite low on the academic scale – here‘s one such essay, and its damned difficult to comprehend!

But thank goodness for translators like Quarkboy, who found and gave us the relevant section of the above essay.

Pardon me. I am completely hopeless. Why? Because I am no teacher. I am a student. And yet I dare to lecture.

I am but a single ball of unease. I am just searching. Be it women, the truth, whatever. I leave it to your imagination. I am just, definitely, searching.

However, that thing known as truth does not exist. Namely, truth has always been that thing which is searched for. People search endlessly for the truth, but the truth will never exist. It is a thing whose existence comes from that it is being searched for, and whose existence therefore implies its none existence. If there comes a time when truth comes into existence in our mortal realm, when truth’s existence is here before us, then humans will have ceased being human. Humans will be nothing but pigs in the form of humans. The truth will be fed to humans, and the humans will eat it, no different than pigs.

I did away with traditional Japanese thinking, and denied the concept of the impermanence of things (mono no aware) and the thinking of the occult. However, what I say is not the truth, or anything close. It simply has some meaning of the era. I, defeated, for the sake of the defeated words, the lies are seen through, the arguments are won. Putting my denial aside, I once again hold true the impermanence of things. There is no need for something like a dialectic. What I am talking about is obvious. People die. Things break. Just like the Hojoki states, there is nothing which does not break.

I have been broken from the beginning. All I am doing is searching. “You. Why do you search?” Because I am not so grand as to not be searching. I am not so grand as to say “This is a pain” and sleep for eternity without eating.

I search. And, along the way, I create. I create things with all my might. But, these things will all surely break. But, for just me, with my effort, they just barely stay intact. But beyond that I can do nothing.

If that is to be judged by the corner that runs counter to the public order and morals of the world, then I have no intention of being judged by the public order and morals.

I must be judged only by myself. Probably, I am also no longer a judge of “humans”.

I will discuss this in greater detail when I actually ‘review’ the series after I’ve seen episode 0, but the whole idea that the ‘truth’ is something that people forever search for but never completely arrive at is very compelling. Or, to put it in a different way, different people will see different truths depending on how much or how little you know, and it may never to possible to know the entire truth. It’s something that has really been brought home to me this year by real-life events too, and I sincerely wish that showing this series to the relevant person would help them realise that. Unfortunately, that’s quite unlikely to happen.

But the bottom line is, more than politics, or Japanese national identity, or anything else I saw people comment about before the final episode, UN-GO really was about the nature of ‘truth’. And that is one of the main factors that has made it my favourite anime TV series of 2011.

Wit and subtlety in Shinrei Tantei Yakumo

One problem with labeling a title as part of a certain genre is that occasionally, the draw of such a title lies not in exemplary execution of said genre, but rather in supposedly peripheral ideas such as character development. Such is the curse – or blessing – that befalls Shinrei Tantei Yakumo. The general consensus of viewers who tried it for the mystery is one of disappointment. For those who look below the cover though, Yakumo offers much in the vein of, dare I say it, one of my favourite Western authors.

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Ikebukuro: a town of cops, freaks, and DRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

(Say it like OnoD does on that Perfect Guide that was available on the website! (^_^))

Ikebukuro. Probably unknown to most casual anime fans until just over a year ago. Possibly debatable whether the more serious overseas fans of action, mecha and other varieties of spashy or intellectual titles knew of it – it’s Akihabara that they go to after all. Even I only found out how significant it was to a certain subset of otaku, the fujoshi, when a friend asked me about it after my second or third trip to the Animate there. But as of January of last year, it was probably added to the list of anime pilgrimages that fans will make when they hit Japan. All thanks to Durarara!!

We LOOOOOOOOOOOVE this town!!

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Switch OVA: on the perils of having a voice fetish

And once again, the title of this post refers more to me than to the show itself… Though it wasn’t just the seiyuu I’m completely into that led to this particular impulse buy, it’s also the work of a manga group I like and had been following for a while and not to mention, this being the clincher for me: the included SCRIPT* (I’m a student of Japanese, after all!) But guess what? In the end, I haven’t even really had time to sit down and explore these OVAs properly. *sighs*

*LOL. Come to think of it, Japanese closed captions would have worked just as well…sadly, I’ve never seen them included on a DVD! And they’d be so useful for the Bakemonogatari commentaries! But let’s stop that thought here…

Switch brings viewers a glimpse of the drug underworld of Japan, as we follow two new investigators in the Narcotics Control Department (aka the “Matori”). In this OVA, the two (Hal and Kai) both go undercover in order to investigate the spread of a new drug, and the department finds itself chasing after vague shadows of a secretive but highly influential organisation…

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Review: Ergo Proxy

This series is a bit hard to describe. Hmm…one sentence summary: Ergo Proxy is a psychological science-fiction suspense anime. It’s built around many philosophical threads that I don’t understand, but nevertheless gave me great satisfaction in following the mysteries as they were unravelled, and left me with many things to think about. In other words, don’t watch this if all you’re looking is brainless entertainment.

Ergo Proxy

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Reviews: Ghost Hound and Shion no Ou

Since I was watching these two around the same time, I think I’ll attempt them together too. To be honest, I thought that this particular season (Autumn 2007) wasn’t particularly interesting, but I have to say that these two were actually pretty good for the most part – though I’ve kept one and not the other…

GHOST HOUND