I’ve had this manga book, Domu: A Child’s Dream, on my shelf for around 2-3 years, and I’ve found myself looking for something to read, my memory reminded me of Domu and where it was on my shelves (even though my shelves look like this, I know where all my books are!). So I picked it up, and a couple of hours later it was done. And I have some things to say, and this is my blog, so say them I shall!
(Guy’s Note: Well, Hobby Search not loading its pages in English means the “Figure Friday” of sorts post I was meaning to make will be postponed for sometime during the week (or next Friday).)
For those who don’t know, Domu is an anime written by Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of Akira, and had been written (and serialized) between 1980 and 1982. I’ve read the graphic novel version translated by Dark Horse, unsurprisingly. The story follows an accursed housing block in Japan. Accursed you ask? There’s an astonishingly high number of deaths and disappearances around the block, and they send detectives to investigate the matter. And things escalate into a psychic duel.
And this covers the general plot of the story, which you could probably find out online with minor poking.
(This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such covers more my thoughts, and is less focused as an actual bona fide review. There will be a LOT of spoilers in this post.)
This blog post will discuss, or at least raise the question, of what exactly is a Mecha Anime, and raise the argument that most anime where mecha appear are in fact not fact Mecha Anime.
China Miéville, for those who don’t know him is a British sci-fi/fantasy author whom I am quite fond of, and who is to put it succintly, an “Urban Author”. China Mieville wrote King Rat, which also deals with London, and the city’s feel, and environs. China Mieville writes in a word called Bas-Lag, the first book deals with the city of New Crobuzon, and the politics of the city, its ethnic (of races) make-up, etc.
His book from 2009 (which I am dearly waiting to acquire) is titled The City & The City, and I assume you can see how cities stand at its core.
The point I am trying to make is, that while in most stories we have cities, in most of them these cities are a backdrop to the action, and don’t figure heavily into the narrative. They are not major characters in the story, and far too often are not even truly supporting characters.
Not so in Mieville’s books, where the city is often as important a character as any of the protagonists and antagonists who make up the story, and while it often doesn’t show itself in any concentrated manner, it appears in small ways interweaved with anything that occurs.
So, this is the point from which I wish to discuss mecha in anime. Just like in many books and series, the city is just a backdrop, or even glossed over completely, in many anime series, including ones that bill themselves as “mecha anime”, the mecha are not a core part of the story, and even if they supposedly are, it’s not often in the “right” way.
Foreward: This entry was written by myself back at April 2007. The last book was not yet written. I thought it’s interesting, so I am going to share it (with minor cleaning up); especially seeing what I covered in my 100th post, regarding slash-fic. Anyway, onward we go.
There is no sex in Harry Potter.
As far as we know, all the non-parent characters are virgins. We know Harry is a virgin, Ron is a virgin unless he got some action during his summer vacations, which is unlikely, living at home and far away from civilization and other humans.
Hermione is the most likely one to have had sex, seeing she spends her summer vacations amongst humanity, and we know very little of what she does during that time.
We know the characters’ parents, and parental characters had sex, but we only know of it because they have children.
This is a rather prudish way of handling things.
So, here’s the deal. Slash is a form of fan-fiction written that for the most part covers (male) homosexual relationships between two characters, from the same fantasy world, or even crossing boundaries (pun). Yaoi is anime/manga focused on homoeroticism.
So far, so good?
These are porn, and the characters written within them often fail to portray people of the gender they seemingly portray, not unlike lesbian pornorgraphy (pornography with two (or more!) women, mostly aimed at men, as distinct from pornography aimed at the lesbian community).
Now, I’m going to leave aside the discussion of whether Porn is or isn’t bad, but if we’re honest, fiction written in order to get people sexually aroused and which people use in order to get sexually aroused? I don’t really see any term to use to describe it aside from pornography.
My other claim which is a bit more controversial (that is less to say, it’s more of an opinion), is that there’s a “gender-swap” going on. The men in yaoi/slash, while they are males (biological distinction), are not men (social distinction). What they are, is women, or to put it in a crass but catchy manner – they are chicks with dicks.
This is something good about media, they (plural of medium) have a discrete length. That is, not just any series comes to an end, or fails to come to an end as the case might be, but each piece, each packet, is of a discrete length. For instance, a DVD only has the episodes on it, a book only has the number of pages within it, a movie is only as long as it is.
A series might comprise several DVDs, and each DVD might comprise of several episodes, and each episode has a distinct length. But what is important I think is the DVD. A lot of it comes to how much effort people are willing to put into things, but also because people want to have given something “a fair shot.”
While watching Angel Beats yesterday I got to think of an anime I love, an anime I think is under-appreciated. Well, it seems appreciated by all those who have watched it, but it definitely seems like not enough people have watched or heard of it. This anime is Shigofumi, Letters from the Departed, Stories of the last Letter, or what have you.
Another anime that I thought of and also came up on Twitter a couple of days ago is Visions of a Distant Star, a thirty minute movie made by one person, who is so heart-rending it is not even funny.
So the point I thought of regarding Angel Beats, well, if you know anything of Shigofumi it might not be too hard to see why I thought of it. In Shigofumi we get to see the last letter someone wrote after having died, and we also see their life just before death, or someone’s life as affected by the story… In Angel Beats, we’ve thus far saw the life stories of I believe four people, and these are small poignant moments, which deeply affect me. They usually do not take more than 4 minutes, yet you find yourself all teary-eyed after having watched them, even if you did not bond with the character depicted in them before. This is also true for Shigofumi, whereas most characters, and certainly those who send or receive the letters do not appear before “their” episode. And yet, after an episode of merely twenty minutes, you feel connected to them, you feel related to them, and their stories have impacted you.
Discworld and Deus Ex Machinas; Foreshadowed DEM are still DEM.
So I’ve been reading, well more like re-reading, some of my old Discworld novels recently (ny Terry Pratchett), and something hit me as I reached the book that stopped the manner in which I’ve read them, the onslaught, the flood. The book was Making Money, the second Moist von Lipwig book.
The fact that I’ve read that book reasonably recently probably also had a part in it, as my memory of it was still pretty fresh. But the issue that came up in this book is one that had come up in other Discworld books as well, in a manner at least, but it is in another iteration what makes up for Discworld’s “charm”. The issue is that of Deus Ex Machinas, so to speak.
Discworld books often have iterations and re-iterations of things. We have a specific issue crop up time and time again in a book, and that is part of what makes it “Funny”. Scare-quote funny in parts, genuinely funny in others. Anyway, it is the repetition that gives things power, as we either get the same idea across time and time again in the same manner, or with subtle changes.
The idea that comes up, or the sentence, in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, for instance was “He could to take down a dog,” which is usually applies to rats, so it’s quite some feat. At a certain point in the book we’re told that X was strong enough to take down a dog, but Y was strong/mad enough to take down a wolf. And let me tell you, after we read the same sentence time and time again, in the context that this was posted, it made me all teary-eyed. It hit hard, the way that it was changed.
Scott Pilgrim against the world. A comic book released in the form of books, 5 released and 6 total planned, by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Well, there’s a movie now so I’m sure more people will hear of it, and hopefully the creator will also earn more money. It’s not like independent comic writers (comic sold through Oni Press, which houses a lot of independent and manga publications) are known for the piles of money they swim in.
Anyway, it may very well be that Scott Pilgrim is a reflection of the generation that I am a member of, the “Y Generation”, or in the case is, which Scott Pilgrim makes quite convincing, the “Yeah! Generation.” You see, Scott Pilgrim feels to me like an invention that hails in spirit from Seattle, though it’s actually Canada, but let us assume that it is Seattle’s spirit for the moment, the city that had brought us Grunge, the city that had brought has Starbucks. In other words, it’s a hipster city. I have hipster friends who live in Seattle or in its environs and whom I can think of as “Seattleans” in my mind – even though I’ve never actually been to Seattle myself.
So Scott Pilgrim against the world. The plot as there may be is that Scott falls in love with this girl called Ramona (note, it’s been two-three years since I’ve read any Scott Pilgrim). But there’s a problem, Ramona’s evil ex-boyfriends, all seven of them. What follows is a mocking super-hero-esque series of fights where the hipster, broke, slacker Scott Pilgrim is someone we (IIRC) find out to have never lost a fight, and who is “too cool for school”.
Note: It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read Scott Pilgrim, so on one hand consider it a review of my memory of the comic, and on the other, I use it as a stepping stone to speak of a wider issue. Thank you.
Back in 2007 I had several months of free time, and I decided to watch some of the unwatched DVDs that collected in our cabinet, courtesy of Amazon. I’ve watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all 7 seasons of it, and the first season of Babylon 5. For those of you wondering, I watched 4-8 episodes a day, so it didn’t take that long.
So what I want to talk about here is “weight”, the weight of the shows. Now, what sort of weight is this? It’s a subjective feel that you have after the show ends. I am not sure if I can grasp what exactly I mean in a short amount of words, so I will make several passes around the concept, and hope that after that, you will know what I am speaking of, even if a definite definition will elude us.
So, some books, some movies, they are “meaty”. After you watch them, you sit there and keep thinking about it, you go and talk to your friends about it, you go online and post lengthy posts about it (;)). The point is, the media item in question has a lot going for it, and you can keep talking and thinking about it for quite some time.
This is sometimes not an attribute of the item in question, but rather how it touches upon something in you, the reader. Good media often touches on enough topics and in such a way that most people will have something to address in such a way.
Well, this is not a post just about the geekier comedies which I love, such as Genshiken (which may not exactly be a comedy, but a slice-of-life series) and The Big Bang Theory, but it’s true for all comedies, and many stand-up shows as well, certainly all those who deal with current events and politics.
I think intertextuality is what geeks thrive upon, and geeks who are into “geeky things” seem to respond and be proud of it, but having watched some comedies that deal with sports, I think it’s true for all geeks – all those who are nearly obsessed with a field respond well to shows that “reward” them for their knowledge, and which separates them from those who do not “get it”. Geeks do tend to take it one step further.
Think of Genshiken, with all of the anime and mangas referenced, and which those of us who watched with subtitles usually had helpful notes explaining what is being referred to. And then you have the self-proclaimed “Big Geeks”, who scoff at those who do not recognize all such references immediately, or TV-Shows such as Stargate where things from the first couple of seasons will show up in season 8 (and then think of conventions where there are minutiae quizes, to prove you’re the biggest fan).