Winter 2014 Anime and the greater meanings
Since I did this for the whole of what I watched in a late start last year, I figured I could just make this a seasonal thing. See, Japan has these things called "Chinese Cartoons," and they air a whole bunch of them every season. I picked out a bunch to watch for the Winter, and now that the season is nearly over, I finally have a more concrete idea of what each show is actually about! So, here ya go, a quick run down on the greater themes for everything that aired this season that isn't as shallow as a puddle, and in the case of certain shows, some interesting little bits that elevate it above being brainless entertainment.
[man in distance]: JUST DO IT ALREADY
What is it about: Prejudice and Hatred
Hamatora has a few issues, but it also has a really clever brain. From what I wrote, you are probably expecting yet another show on why racism is bad and yada yada. Hamatora instead twists that up; what it's actually about is not just prejudice against a minority but the cycle of hatred and violence that can sprout from that initial spark of negativity. Both the minimums, people gifted with special powers, and normal people are part of the equation of why things keep getting worse, reaching the point where only two people can see the full problem because they no longer think on the same level as everyone else. Ironically, that's what alienates them. It's a show also about genius and madness, along with the fine line that separates the two, as contrasted with Nice and Moral, the hero and villain. The morality (heh) of the series is left for you all to debate ...which might be the point. Even Nice has flaws to him, further showing there's not really one right character. At least, so far, the finale may change all that, and then we can all have something to argue about!
What is it about: Historical trivia
This isn't a very complex series, people. There are aliens, people with alien historical people powers kill them while the entire scene suddenly warps itself to a rave in Hell. Print money. That said, I do bring it up here because the writer was kind enough to be a colossal history nerd. The concept of people having the powers based on famous people in human history isn't wasted, playing heavily into the plot and possibly future character development down the line. For example, Ogura is as far from Nobunaga as humanly possible, being a socially awkward gun otaku, while the man who's supposed to be Gandhi is an alpha male. Even Jack is different from the murderous Jack the Ripper, able to pick up on thoughts others don't say with a surprising amount of empathy. These characters become more like their source of power as time goes on, like Ogura finally growing a backbone and showing an eye for strategy, Gandhi mellowing out a bit, and Jack going all blood knight when those aliens show up. There's also a few historical jokes in there, like Geronimo despising the cold (the original Geronimo died from cold caused Pneumonia). It gives a nifty little layer to the show that history dorks can nerd over like the filthy nerds they are.
Well, that sure was nice.
What is it about: Identity
Noragami had more layers to it than what I first thought. Instead of being yet another supernatural action story about the people residing in the world of the dead, but it's a much more meaningful than that. The major theme of the series is identity and the lack thereof. Every major character has some sort of identity crisis of some sort, from Yukine unable to accept that he's dead and never had anything in his original life, to Yato's grim past and desire to become better than that, with even Hiyori not really meshing with the near shore or far shore anymore due to her half-phantom status. This also ends up driving all the conflict, from a god that wants Yato dead to Yukine's downward spiral slowly killing Yato in response. Even the rules of the world center around identity; gods die if nobody believes in them, because they they're no longer deities that people pray to or believe in. Regalia, on the other hand, desperately miss life and all that it offered, plus lack names. They have to be given names by gods in order to have any sort of identity or purpose, or else they're just spiritual residue for phantoms to snack on. Essentially, if you have nobody validating who you are in some way, you disappear. Yesh, harsh. This is what makes the current arc well thought out, as severing Yato and Yukine from the person closest to them could very well destroy who they are thanks to her.
"I'm not always dandy, but when I am, I'm real fucking dandy."
What is it about: *takes a long breath*
The full meaning of Space Dandy is all over the map because every episode is different and has writing from different talent not to mention different directors so every episode is a new thing that adds to a greater hold the first episode doesn't have any meaning beyond being funny but sets up the main tool all talent involved use to do whatever they want that being the warp drive warping reality and causing alternate timelines episode two ends up having a story about redemption at the end while episode three goes back to meaningless pulp inspired by 70s exploitation and sci-fi films from campy eras the forth episode starts off as a zombie comedy before completely subverting everything in the second half and showing a world where zombies were the only life form episode five starts having depth again with a story about a child lost and alone in space and Dandy trying to save her from the harsh world around her growing a fatherly bond episode six returns to comedy by making a parody of the common story of war and the meaningless of violence possibly suggesting non-violent pursuits are more pure and worth while with Dandy's cosmic surf at the end episode-
*breaks to stretch*
-episode seven is the show's own take on such properties like Wacky Racers and Redline with an ending meant to reference a famous space film and also Dandy and the Prince have cosmic gay sex and it was incredible episode eight was written by Keiko Nobumoto the person who wrote the majority of Wolf's Rain and continues her use of distant connections within a story to make something touching in the first half with the death of an innocent animal and then turn into another comedy situation with Dandy and friends dealing with flea sized aliens that control electronics episode nine is mainly to show off visual styles of one of the women who worked on the strangely animated Kickheart short with a bit of sci-fi influence with the pulpy idea of intelligent plants episode ten has a Groundhog Day premise with Dandy and friends trapped in a timeloop and Meow reconnecting with his humble roots acting as both character building and showing the worth and depth within simplistic lives and episode eleven was written by Toe EnJoe a confusing and obtuse hard sci-fi writer who made a story about book aliens that gather information from all over the cosmos by manipulating living and intelligent beings or as intelligent as Dandy and friends can be and hinting at the possible reason for why Dandy keeps managing to get away with so much and an ending that suggests a war nobody remembers went down due to the information collecting aliens it's a high concept story that's very difficult to grasp a real meaning of but I suspect it's simply an exercise in EnJoe's technical and confusing style that may simple be about the meaningless of our existence and our lack of free will that we may not even realize
Yeah, that about covers it so far.
Super Sonico: The Animation
CONFESS! CONFESS, YOU LYING LIAR! CONFESS!!
What is it about: Living life to the fullest
Slice of life anime are thankfully easier to figure out. It's almost always about life lessons (or hard otaku pandering with no thought present at any moment), and Super Sonico is no exception. The running message it keeps telling is that you shouldn't let life pass you by; you have to try new things and grow from new experiences, while working towards the things that you want to do in life. Sonico is the living thesis of this, and she inspires those around her to do the same. It's not exactly a subtle or complex show, but it certainly has heart. Episode seven in particular gets down the message perfectly with barely any dialog or score.
Witch Craft Works
Literally every episode.
What is it about: Gender and subverting common story structure
Witch Craft Works is more than it initially seems. Instead of just being a gender swapped shonen romp, it's a downright evisceration of shonen tropes and action story structure, while mixing in a bit of gender role commentary. Whenever something expected is supposed to happen, it either happens or gets interrupted by something completely out of left field, like a villain using man-made bombs instead of magic to catch her captors off guard, or all the good witches storming another villain's hideout and stopping her plan cold before anything can happen, all while reacting to a completely different event that was going on elsewhere with the main characters. Also, an alligator in a suit shaving a witch's head. There's a lot of random sight gags mixed in too, just making the series feel absurd, even when it's being straight laced at certain moments. The absurdity eventually just becomes part of how the world works and you start accepting it, then laughing after the fact.
Also, Kagari and Takamiya's mothers totally had sex with each other at some point.
As for gender, this is definitely a world where the female gender is in charge, and the result is a pretty bit of sly commentary that I'm not sure was there on purpose. All the female characters are the ones that get interesting and wild personalities, completely absent of a male gaze in story, while the two male characters we've met so far are the very simple, being the slightly generic Takamiya and one pathetic but sly teacher. Takamiya is basically introduced as our hero ...only to become more like what most female characters are in series like these, weak and there to move the plot and be an object of affection, all while trying to be a more traditional male hero and constantly making things worse by doing so. It's only when he accepts that his role in the story is supporting but still important does he begin to grow past his initial dull simplicity and start to help out everyone else, who are usually putting their lives on the line for him. Basically, the show is taking shots at lazy writing of female characters, but not completely discounting the roles those badly written characters usually get, showing that it is possible to make someone interesting if you treat them more as just a plot device or motivation for another character. Takamiya is commonly the view we see the show through, just making this all the more obvious; he is the main character, but his challenge is not to act like a main character.
Also Kagari was dressed as a nurse one time and that was amazing.
World Conquest: Zvezda Plot
Yeah, fuck Lincoln!
What is it about: Maturity Vs. Immaturity and the power of fiction
It took me awhile to figure out this riddle, but I eventually got it. Zvezda is a series about an inept group of supervillains trying to conquer the world ...or that's what it wants you to think at first. As the show starts showing more cards, earlier hints become easier to understand and the puzzle starts to come together. At its heart, Zvezda is about people with ambition, in both positive and negative ways. What decides what is right and wrong is the maturity level; Kate and Zvezda have a very simple goal of complete world conquest, but for the sake of a better future. The villains, however, are either muddy in what they actually want, or willing to destroy anything that stands in their way of gaining power, including one another if push comes to shove. At the core, it's a conflict between people with a childish view of the world and one with an adult's point of view. They're all selfish, but the message sent out is completely different on each side.
#Irony #ViralMarketing #420
There's a lot of evidence to support this. Kate stopped aging when she decided that she wanted to conquer the world, becoming a child forever. Goro disbanded his gang, which was only interested in their own gain and power, to join an organization with a leader that wanted to find a better future. Asuta's father cares absolutely for nobody else and only his own power. Kaori is blinded by revenge on Goro and ends up becoming a villain she was supposedly supposed to fight as a member of White Light, while Egret let her emotions drive her in the wrong direction as well. Natasha chose to find comfort in her childish pursuits after being cast away by her parents. I could go on and on, but the deciding factor was Asuta; when asked what he wanted to do for the rest of his life if he was allowed to, he basically said he wanted to tell the whole world that it was alright to chase after whatever it is they wanted to do with their lives. We all need that inner child in us, because there's a purity in that selfishness; it's something people can relate to and maybe even improve themselves with, unlike the cruel lessons of the adult world. If we didn't have that inner child somewhere in us, we'd probably just be a husk of a human being chasing after something for the sake of filling something we didn't even know was empty. Fiction tends to fuel our dreams as well, which is why Zvezda and White Light take the form of costumed warriors.
If Zvezda pulls off the last episode right, it could be an instant classic.